The Friends of Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Playing Fields started its activities in Autumn 2003. It is a group of volunteers comprised mainly of local residents.
So far we have held a community "Bring a Barrow Day" (September) to start the clearance of the overgrown tennis courts. We made good progress, and Merton council rangers were on site and tools made available to help. We have put a bid in for London Marathon funding to resurface them. The results of the funding bid should be known before Christmas. There have been offers of help from, among others, local businesses, to clear the remainder of the courts, and we are waiting for Merton to discuss a partnership strategy to realise our aim. Merton have, however, provided support in writing our grant application.
On the Bring a Barrow day, Dave Lofthouse (an arboricultural manager for Merton) took groups of volunteers into the Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Woodland to clear the overgrown paths through it and to do some coppicing. The entrance is by the playground.
The Playing Fields will shortly have an interpretation board to explain the nature conservation interest in the playing fields. This includes the established oak Memorial Woodland, the Millennium Woodland and the Meadow. The Interpretation Board has come from Merton Council funded also by English Nature. The "Friends" in cooperation with the Council have written and designed the layout of the Board.
There is a Playground group within the Friends who are working with Merton Council to try to improve the play facilities. There is a general consensus that there is a lack of toddler equipment. There will be some funding available from April 2004, but more will have to be sought through grants. We have had advice about the layout of the playground and where potential new equipment could go. We are consulting people about the type of equipment most wanted by and appropriate for users of the playground. More benches are also on the list. There is the possibility of the fencing bordering the tennis courts being fixed too.
For general information: the "train" climbing frame was moved due to tree roots disturbing the base. The old sandpit was removed some years ago because due to health and safety issue resulting from foxes fouling. In the spring of 2004 we will be able to repaint the existing playground equipment. We will not forget the paddling-pool issue of last summer, and will continue to lobby for keeping it open and in use throughout the summer.
Various people from the Friends Group have been out removing graffiti over the past couple of months using materials provided by Merton.
The Pavilion is getting a coat of paint on the inside.
It is available for hire from Merton for a variety of uses. At present the rates per hour are as follows:
|Bookings before 5pm||£17.50|
|After 5pm and Saturdays||£24.00|
Contact number for Merton Pavilion Hire: 020-8545 3677
The Friends have had a site visit and meeting with the police including the Raynes Park Beat Manager and a crime prevention officer. They have identified key points to improve safety including increased use of the playing fields, lighting from the car park to the pavilion (perhaps on a timer system), and addressing youth issues, possibly involving youth outreach workers.
The Friends Group will be formally constituted at a public meeting in March 2004. Nominations for offices should be given to Howard Leigh via the Friends website by 31st January 2004.
We welcome any support or ideas and wish to be as representative of the community as possible.Sophie Cabral Tel. 020-8404 8346 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org