Minutes 6 September 2022



Anna Cordell, Secretary
Augustus Betz
Charles Wicksteed, Chairman for the evening
David Nyman
Derek Brimson
Eamonn Cannon
Helen McGahey
Helen Oubridge, Outgoing Treasurer
Jenni Grossman
Jon Freeman
Michael Moody
Patrick Gaskell-Taylor
Rachel Adema
Rebecca Hanley
Roanne Goodman

1.0 Treasurer

Helen Oubridge, who has been Treasurer from the start of the Friends of Highlands Group Committee is retiring from the role as of this evening.  For the group to continue, we need a new Treasurer.  It was asked if anyone at the meeting would like to take on the role. For the time being, there has been no take-up for the role.

The Committee will co-opt a Treasurer at a later date.  Four people kindly offered to join the (unofficial) Committee alongside Anna, Charles, Rebecca and David: Jenni, Eamonn, Rachel and Derek.

Some of the tasks of Treasurer were explained:

  • If anyone spends any money, the Treasurer will counter-sign the cheque to reimburse the person. 
  • It requires basic book-keeping – what monies goes in, what comes out, why and when.
  • FoHG is not a registered charity.  It has a communities account, which means there are no charges and no interest to be made.
  • It is constituted, hence requiring an AGM.

2.0 Barnet Council

A query was made regarding the Council’s role with Highlands Gardens Park.

The Council are responsible for the park.  They look after the beds around the pond; cut the grass, maintain the trees. Volunteers can also maintain the beds around the pond. The reason the Friends group exists is so that it can apply for grants through the Council.  In around 2012, FoHG received Lottery funds of £50,000 through the Council and the Friends’ Group to clear out the pond. The Council dug up the silt, re-lined, waterproof painted around it and put back the stones that had slipped.

Water still leaks.  It is better than before but not tight. The Council looks after the park and FoHG can request action.

3.0 Rob Wiltshire, Greenspaces Development Officer, Barnet Parks

Helen O read out Rob’s email written to Anna with information about the park.  (This will be forwarded separately to the minutes).

4.0 Activities, fund raising, funding, promotion

Jennie suggested litter picking. Helen McG offered to get involved for that with the children.  Jennie enquired about promoting ourselves on social media.  Helen O is admin for our Facebook page. Jennie offered to co-admin for it.  Charles looks after the website and would be happy to pass it on and train the next person who would like to take it on.

Helen O explained that there is a bit of Lottery money left over.  This can be used to officially promote results of our work and go towards refreshments for activities and parties, etc.   Most of the funds have been used up.  They were also used to purchase the new hexagonal benches.

Michael suggested setting up a WhatsApp group for the Friends, which works very well for his road. They had a successful Jubilee street party. It’s something to consider, although all our communications get sent via email and notices on the park notice board.  We also promote events by posting flyers through residents’ doors.

5.0 Subscriptions

HO explained that subs to FoHG were £5 and can be given to the Treasurer or we could give out the bank details to pay online.  FoHG used to gain subs via a form at the bottom of the Newsletter.  The newsletter has not been sent out for a few years due to no activities taking place and partly due to the pandemic.

6.0 Letter to the Council regarding felling of trees

Rachel shared her letter and reply from the arboreal officer regarding her query as to why some trees had recently been felled, which was read out at the meeting.  She wondered whether they cut down the wrong trees.  During a storm a tree fell onto the roof of a house in Abbotts Road.  This needed to be felled.  Others had split and were a danger.

There are no preservation orders to keep any trees.  If they need to be felled, the Council will grow new ones.

FoHG had funds to buy some new trees.  A magnolia and acer were bought and planted.  Recently they have been stolen!

7.0 Night-time visitors

Rebecca mentioned that there have been night-time visitors to the park, which can create a disturbance.  She doesn’t blame young people as it’s something for them to do.  But adults have been seen and heard to jump over the gate into the park.  She reports to the police (dialling 101). You can also report any disturbances to the police website. It is good to report any sightings of bad behaviour, ie, drug dealing, next to or in the park as the police will collect the reports and can take action towards preventing crime in the future, ie, set up a patrol. This will likely come from the SNT, Safety & Neighbourhood Team.

Knives have recently been found in the park. 

David and Derek have tried to fix the posts of the gate at the front of the park as they are leaning over.  They put rubber around the edges to prevent it from banging.  The gate is the responsibility of the Council.  Anna will forward Rob Wiltshire’s email address to David so that he can contact him about the gate.

8.0 Pond & Pump

Eamonn mentioned how sad it is to see no water in the stream.  Charles explained that the pump no longer works, due to the pipes underground are broken.  These would channel the water into the stream and pond.  This is why the pond does not fill up.  Helen O suggested that FoHG could fundraise to fix this, if anyone would like to try.

HO mentioned that if we want to waterproof the pond, it will need a butyl liner and would need the silt digging out.  This is very costly, around £50,000.

Rebecca suggested that if we applied for funding, it might be good to go for fixing the land drains.  HO said that the cracks in the pond are so big, they empty as soon as it fills.  If it is fixed, it might fill. The recent work the council has done may have fixed the leaks.

David said the pond weed could do with removing, although it should be fine to stay where it is.  The duckweed needs to be taken out.  It changes the nitrogen in the water.  It can be removed with an extendable rake (by volunteers).  The duckweed can then be used as a good fertiliser.

9.0 Gardening Club

There was a bit of take-up for this in the past.  Derek and David do most of it now.  Ian Wilson used to do a lot with the pond and still does. Augustus helps when he can.  When the take-up got low, David stopped emailing about it.  It used to take place on the first Saturday of the month. It hasn’t taken place in the past few years, especially since the pandemic. David will start emailing about the gardening club again and will put up notices on the park board.

Derek dredges up silt.  He also has equipment to clean the bird houses.

10.0 Treasurer’s report and fundraising

Balance brought forward and including subscriptions for 2021/22 - £723.56

For any activities, social or official gardening, you must have insurance.  It would cost less than £100.

For the TVC, conservation volunteers, you used to have to be members of this organisation but it is no longer required.  It used to be £200 per year for insurance.  The subscription goes towards picnics and newsletters.  If we want to raise money, we can get community grants through the Lottery, Tesco and Barnet organisations.