Agenda item

Park Management & Biodiversity

To provide an update on Parks Management and Biodiversity, including toilet cleaning & signage, Café in parks, grass cutting, the move to tennis courts booking systems, illegal tenting and fishing at Groveland’s Park, Parks and verges management.



Marcus Harvey and Cheryl Headon introduced and highlighted the key aspects of the report; including but not limited to: public toilet facilities, café leases/marketing, parks, grass cutting and verge maintenance, tennis improvements, the service restructure and a change in method, Countryside Stewardship, introduction of digital technologies, and transparency.


In response to Members questions relating to grass cutting, officers advised that during the rain they would not cut the grass, due to the weight of the machinery and the additional mess created from cuttings, but that where this was the case, officers would be redeployed to maintain green spaces in other ways. Officers added that the Countryside Act limited what shrubbery they could cut during nesting season, but that if there were health and safety concerns or public enquiries, officers would investigate the site and could take a decision, if necessary, to cut it back. They explained that their learning had allowed for problem areas to be identified and highlighted as priorities which were being targeted prior to the nesting season. Being displaced from Trent Park last year provided a challenge in accessing the Western corridor, and now that they were back at the depot, the team were in a better position. Members highlighted that the green at Old Forge Road was never cut as it was not included in the Council’s original list; officers agreed to ensure this was programmed into the new system.


In response to Members queries regarding public toilets, officers advised that closing the toilets an hour before parks closed may be counterproductive and it would be looked at with corporate health and safety colleagues, but there were lone worker issues given the risk at later hours with anti-social behaviour. They added that refurbishments had been undertaken at 3 locations; colleagues had been at Oakwood Park the day before the meeting regarding the broken window, and Bury Lodge Gardens toilets had been escalated to the Property Director/ Facilities Management team. Toilets were said to be closed when it was beyond the finances available to fix them, and or had continued/repetitious anti-social behaviour problems. Officers would come back to Members with the East-West split of public toilet facilities in the borough.


In response to Members enquiries relating to digital technologies, officers advised that this technology would allow for service performance to be fed into the website, and allow them to scrutinise it which would help to make the service more efficient. Officers expressed that they would be starting workshops with the supplier shortly, and that once this had started, they would welcome councillors’ involvement in understanding the technology. They added that technology had been acquired which would help track usage and visits to open spaces across the borough. This insight would allow for conversations with public health colleagues which could feed into workshops and class programmes to target the social and physical wellbeing of young people in the borough, in a similar to schemes like Active Through Football.


In response to Members questions regarding tennis facilities, officers advised that they had put signage at the courts for 3 weeks in the run up to the courts being closed and the booking system being introduced, which provided instructions on how to use the app, and further drop-in sessions were offered. They added that the booking system was a condition of the LTA funding, as a means to get the courts in better condition, and they had received little negative feedback with regards to this. Coaching was said to be available to all residents, with parks targeted based on the outcome of active wellbeing and health data of young people in particular, to encourage them to get involved. Marketing for tennis improvements would go out via schools and social media.


In response to Members queries relating to parks, officers advised that the grass at Aldersbrook Park would be cut; the nettles coming through the fence line, the artificial grass giving off electric shocks, and the frequency of grass cutting in dog area were highlighted, and officers would look into fencing around the slide. Decision makers were said to be in each depot now, so work programmes should be tighter. Officers would look into maintenance issues at Bury Lodge Gardens, which was said to be being serviced by a mobile team of 2-3 people, in the absence of the park keeper.


In response to Members enquiries regarding cafes, officers advised that they were about to go to market with cafes at Enfield Town Playing Fields, Central Pavilion, Pymmes Park, and Jubilee Park, some which could also provide public toilet facilities. They added that there was a new Property Director and that he and Cheryl Headon were in discussion as to how the approach to maintenance issues at buildings in parks could be addressed/improved.

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