Highfield Part Trust Spring Newsletter 2021

Anniversary flypast?

It was very nice of the Red Arrows to recognise our anniversary year with a superb flypast before Easter. Apparently there was another gig in London on the same day, purely by coincidence. Joking aside, another great photo from Austin Guest, who always seems to capture the moment so well. 

The good news is that Spring is finally arriving and some of the flooded and wetter parts of the Park are starting to dry out. James, Tom and Paul have been busy throughout the inclement weather and are making up for the lost time last year.

They have cleared and cut back much of the overgrown hedges, brambles and shrubs. They have pruned the apple trees and worked on the arcure, which is obviously benefitting from the tender, loving care it has received in recent years. Bird boxes have gone up, new hedging has been planted, old allotments have been cleared for new tenants, football pitches have been sanded, fences have been repaired and a million and one other things that go on to keep the Park looking as good as it does. Of course it never stops!

Other improvements include a new concrete section at the entrance to the Pavilion track, which will make it easier for cars to get in and out of Highfield Lane.  This track has also had the potholes filled, which will improve access to the Pavilion and cricket field.

Three new litter bins have also been ordered and will replace the bins on the Village Green and on the path to the YMCA from the front football field. These bins are of an improved design and won’t allow the        magpies to displace the contents all over the paths. Special thanks to Michelle Thompson, who ran an online fundraiser for the Trust at the beginning of the year and raised £700 to help fund this. Also thanks to Colney Heath Parish Council for providing another grant to make up the difference.  They will obviously be installed as soon as we take delivery.

Litter was a major headache between lockdowns last year and we’re braced for another onslaught in the coming weeks. We have been criticised for not having enough litter bins in the Park, but no reasonable measures can withstand the irresponsible dumping of detritus that engulfed us last year.  I argued in a      Facebook thread that if I decided to have an ice cream, I would expect facilities to dispose of the wrapper and stick. Personally, I don’t believe that it is reasonable to be leaving camping seats, blankets, BBQs, empty bottles and the boxes from which they came, food containers and the rest strewn around.

A few weeks ago we were walking past a bench where a group of teenagers were eating a fish and chip meal. As it happens, we were on a litter pick, so we picked up a few cans that were already laying around them. We carried on and thought nothing of it, only to walk past the same bench an hour or so later. This group had thought it wise to dump all their unwanted food and packaging on the floor, yet there was a half-full litter bin less than 10m away.

Everybody thinks it somebody from another area or household. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. On one occasion last year, a young lady from the Cell Barnes side of the estate celebrated her birthday

in Hither Wood. Again, somebody else had to clear up the mess the following morning, including the packaging with her name and address on it.

If you have children and they are using the Park in the evening, the Trust would be very grateful if you could check that they dispose of their litter appropriately.

Richard, the Park Manager, recently met with Inspector Andy Wiseman, in a co-ordinated meeting organised by District Councillor Anthony Rowlands. It’s fantastic that this co-ordination is now occurring and having worked with the Police last year, it is obvious that they have a very difficult job to do. At every opportunity they stress to me the importance of reporting incidents to them. So often I see people just posting on Facebook. Honestly, you’re wasting your time—make the Police aware—and do us all a favour.

Elsewhere, we’ve been busy making a strong start to our other plans for the year. As we’ve said many times before, the path network urgently needs repair. As you can imagine the costs of doing this are enormous and it is currently beyond our means to do everything in a    single go. Two years ago we were able to complete the first section around the Village Green and we intend to make further progress this year. We have  applied for a fourth time to the Landfill Community Fund and have been helped by Daisy Cooper MP and Councillors Dreda Gordon and Anthony Rowlands, so many thanks to them for taking the time to write letters of support. We obviously have our fingers crossed for a successful outcome, but whatever happens, we will complete more resurfacing in the coming months. The Park  definitely deserves a better network of paths.

Coming out of this latest lockdown is going to bring other challenges  – restarting events and revenue generating activities. On the opposite page, the YMCA, who do so much fantastic work in our community, have given us a short update.

An update from One YMCA, St Albans Community Gym…

Rapid Flow Testing at St Albans Community Gym

We are proud to have supported our local community by providing our St Albans Community Gym for rapid flow testing. This allowed an extra 40,000 key workers to be tested across Hertfordshire so that they can continue to work!

We Are Back … Our Gym is Open!

We are so excited to announce that our St Albans Community Gym re-opened on 12th April! 

Members have access to a large gym area, free weights room, sports hall and badminton courts.  We also have a fantastic floodlit 3G AstroTurf football pitch.

In preparation for welcoming existing and new members to our gym we have put your safety at the top of our agenda.

This includes:

· Hourly cleaning

· Booking systems

· Clear markings, signs and guidance

· Sanitisation stations

· PPE for all staff

· Staff training

· Monitoring capacity

· Equipment positioned to allow for appropriate social distancing

Please visit oneymca.org/gyms or follow us on social media for the latest updates

Book a 3G pitch

The 3G pitch at our St Albans Community Gym is available to book for organised sport now!

Call us on:

01727 731540

Like the YMCA, the Trust needs to kick start its revenue generating activities and doing so in a totally safe manner is the priority.

The good news is that people are already starting to contact us about using the Visitor Centre which, just before the first lockdown, was creating a fabulous new income stream for the Trust.

Obviously we can only open us as the law allows and caution is the byword, but it is encouraging.

Events will also be impacted for the rest of the year, although we have now have a working schedule. Like Apple Day we are rethinking several formats.

By the time this reaches you Easter will have passed and our traditional Easter Bunny Hunt will have been replaced by a new formatted event. We hope that you were able to take part and enjoyed looking for the twenty five silver Easter eggs that had been      hidden in the Park to mark our 25th Anniversary.

Our friends at Rothamsted will return to support the Mini Beast Safari on Sunday 6th June. Again, this will be a ticketed event, in order to improve the educational experience.

We also expect Luna Cinema to be back this summer, although films still have to be decided. They will be with us from 30th June. Please follow us on social   media or view the website to see the latest information. Opera Anywhere will also return on   Sunday 4th July with their rendition of HMS Pinafore, only in the woods! Again, details on the website.

We were hoping to celebrate our anniversary, with a larger scale event, but we’ve decided in the end to keep things lower key and smaller. It is still being planned but it will now be an opportunity for the Trust to thank some of the people who have contributed to its success since creation.

In the last newsletter I spoke of the Trust’s desire to  establish a Forest School during the summer holidays and I’m delighted to inform you that we have now     secured top-up funding from Communities 1st that will enable us to run all of the six sessions we have planned at zero cost to the participating children. We are now working with six local schools to fill most of places,    although a few places will be made available through our website. These will be family orientated sessions, where a parent or guardian would also need to attend, but we are excited by the prospect and hope to build on it in future years.

Outdoor sport has also just restarted and it will be great to see St Albans City Youth FC back on their  pitches very soon.

Life on the allotments is also starting up again and its good to welcome a few new faces and every plot is now taken. In fact, such has been the interest in  allotments in the last year that we have a waiting list of over fifty people. So, if you are an allotmenteer and are thinking of having a summer off, please consider others who are desperate to have an opportunity.

Richard and the team are also eager to crack on with the revamp of allotment pond and we expect to make progress shortly.

We will also be launching our new fundraising  campaign soon. All proceeds will help with the  establishment of a new natural play area that will be located  between the Village Green and the Sunken Garden behind the YMCA. This will be a long-term endeavour, but we intend to make a good start now.

Roger Thomas, the previous Chair, is co-ordinator of a special summer newsletter, so I’ll get some time off!

Enjoy the Park!

Tim Abbott,

Chair of Trustees.