This is the January 2014 newsletter from the Committee of the Friends of Palewell Common and Fields describing what has been happening on Common in the last three months.
Management of the open space and amenity
The autumn and winter weather has not been kind to the Common. The storm at the end of October blew down a large branch from one of the oak trees on the common near to the café and a large tree on the fields near to the boundary with Richmond Park. Both have been left in situ by the Council – and will continue to provide a habitat for wildlife.
The rains in December and January have left the ground sodden for weeks and the puddles near to the tennis courts have got larger and muddier. We have asked the Council if something can be done to drain them but so far no action had been taken. There is a longstanding problem with underground groundwater drainage which emerges under the tennis courts. We have been told by the Council that it would be very expensive to resolve – but we will continue to press them to do what it can to improve the area.
The rain has also left much of the old pond area near to the entry to the Common waterlogged. But this has not prevented the many daffodil and other bulbs planted in the area from pushing up their leaves– with the promise of a good show of flowers in the spring.
Management of the sports facilities
We have continued to be concerned about the management of the pitch and putt course. We have been told by Richmond that a new contractor – Glendale which manages the very successful Richmond Park Golf Course – has been formally appointed from 1 January. We look forward to improvements over the coming year as they take charge.
The tennis courts have continued to be available and the local tennis coach Mark Chase has continued to provide an excellent service to the local community in spite of the bad weather.
We are hopeful that in the coming year there will be improvements to the cricket pitch and that a local team will use it more regularly over the summer. It will be important that the square is not used for football during the winter and we hope it will be marked in some way to make clear that it should not be used in this way.
Voluntary conservation activities
We held a volunteer conservation day on Friday 18 October when half a dozen volunteers planted some bulbs provided by Nature’s Gym (the Council’s environmental volunteering contractor) on the edge of the gold course. We also cleared a lot of litter from the one of the glades in the woods.
We removed a large quantity of brambles and ivy from an open area alongside the main path through which we had planted with spring bulbs. We hope we will see the benefit in the spring.
The area was rich in a wide variety of fungi growing on tree stumps and other rotten wood. We are planning to put a pictorial guide to the different types fungi in the woods on our website.
Halloween and Christmas events
We held a couple of events on Saturday mornings on the Common for at the end of October to mark Halloween and in December in the run-up to Christmas to draw attention to the work of the Friends. You may well be receiving this newsletter because you gave us your email address at one of the events.
Both gave us the opportunity to talk to a number of parents and children taking part in football activities about what the Friends have been doing. We were also pleased to be able to recruit a number of new members.