I will begin by talking about the maintenance and management of the site.
Workdays have been well-attended by a handful of local volunteers, TCV and Good Gym. Unlike last year, when we made not one but two new hoggin paths, we have built no new paths at all this year. We have however improved our existing paths: we used logs to better define the edges of the Woodland Walk where the original wooden edges had rotted and disappeared. We spread more chips on our woodchip paths. Most recently we have done a very solid bit of restoration to one of our boardwalks that had been rotting and had become a bit dangerous. We were lucky enough to be offered some good quality decking that would otherwise have been thrown away and our two trusty path-making volunteers got to work and completed the job in a single day!
Our hazel coppice is developing well and the number of wild flowers appearing amongst the hazels is testimony to the success of our biodiversity action plan. Some of these hazels will be coppiced in the autumn to allow more light into the woodland floor, they will then help to form a robust understory layer. The wildflowers here are complemented by wildflowers on the school field and in the CREOS meadow. Our wildflower patches in both these locations are no longer fenced off, but some re-seeding is about to take place and we expect there to be quite an array of colour and variety throughout the summer.
A particular success has been the dead-hedge that was erected with the help of TCV on our March workday. The intention was to protect the area alongside the path where spring bulbs and some new saplings had been planted. However, to our delight the vertical stems we drove into the ground have sprouted and come back to life. If they really do develop roots we will have a live willow hedge, rather than a dead one!
As for hedges, the bare patch in the corner of the school field which we planted with trees two years ago is now becoming quite a successful little copse with its hedge at the side developing nicely.
Of course, CREOS not only maintains the paths and woodland but we also keep an eye on the Crouch End Playing Fields as a whole. The felling of three trees near the Brookside courts and bungalow last month had caused some concern, but having met with representatives from the Shepherds Cot, we can now reassure our members that this is all part of a plan to not only upgrade the Brookside courts but to keep them safely away from the important line of trees that border the Greenways path. Furthermore it is good to hear that the SCT have had a thorough survey of all their trees in order to maintain them in good order and keep them safe. The good relationship between CREOS and the SCT has led to a number of improvements on the site over the years, to give just one example – keeping the verges free from pesticides has brought about a beautiful country feel to the newly named Shepherds Lane. CREOS has also offered to work with the SCT on improving the entrance to the site at Park Road. The flower bed between the Greenways and the vehicle entrance has been badly trampled and we are keen to see some new vigorous planting that will keep pedestrians to one side and vehicles to the other.
There is one situation where a pesticide, carefully applied, is the only solution, and that is in the treatment of Japanese Knotweed, an invasive species that we are under a legal obligation to eliminate. We had almost eliminated this at CREOS when Haringey appointed a new Conservation Officer who offered to bring in a professional company. Unfortunately we have waited two years for Haringey to arrange the appropriate treatment and this delay has enabled it to spread again. Luckily we have Professor Duckett on our committee and he has begun a process of removing the new growth and injecting the stems
There have been various challenges for CREOS this year. Not least has been the need to find a replacement for our long-standing treasurer. Julian Sherwood has been the CREOS treasurer for 28 years. He has steered a steady ship through all our campaigns and made sure that we have always had the money to carry out our projects. He has always presented the accounts in not just a clear way but also with a touch of good-humour. It has been wonderful to have such a reliable treasurer and, on behalf of all the committee, I would like to thank Julian for so many years of hard work and wish him well in his retirement.
We are delighted to say that we have now found a volunteer and good friend of CREOS, David Scott, who is able to take over this role and is standing for election to the committee this evening. David has useful experience of keeping accounts for local organisations and has already made some important suggestions. Since the founding of CREOS, 50 years ago, much has changed and there are now different types of charitable structure. David has suggested we switch from being a simple charity to becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.
Whilst maintenance and committee arrangements are going well, there are several other ongoing topics that have not yet been resolved.
We are still waiting to hear whether our application to be protected by the Fields in Trust scheme has been accepted. We are still waiting for our long-term camper to be evicted. We are still waiting to find out why three of the boundary oaks near our main entrance in the allotments access road are dead or dying and what can be done to protect them. We are still trying to get all the professional dog walkers who use our site to join CREOS and be on a contact list, both for their sake and ours. As the number of dogs walked on nearby green spaces is increasingly under control, we have seen a big increase in dog walkers on the CREOS fields and paths. This is not in itself a bad thing, as they are the eyes and ears of the site and many of them regularly help pick up litter and alert us to crimes. In Haringey’s recent Parks and Green Spaces consultation we have however made it clear that our preference is for only 4 dog per walker.
As always CREOS monitors planning applications in order to ensure that this Metropolitan Open Space remains green and uncommercialised. We have therefore voiced our objections, along with many local residents, to the proposal by the Hornsey Cricket Club to build a sports hall at the end of Tivoli Road, on what is currently four lightly-used tennis courts that are in disrepair. A full planning application has not yet been submitted but we are of the firm opinion that restoring the tennis courts would be a better option than creating a huge indoor cricket facility.
Members may also be concerned to hear that a planning application has been submitted for a 20m high 5G mast on the grounds of the Hornsey Cricket Club. This would be clearly visible across the whole site and could have a deleterious effect on our wildlife too.
On a happier note we are pleased to announce that the CREOS Summer party on the meadow will be taking place this year on Sunday 25 June and we look forward to seeing you all there to celebrate our 50th anniversary.