A representative of the Friends of Park Forum,
Jenni Chan, who is the secretary, and Barry Edwards, the Chair of
the Friends of Paradise Park, spoke about the involvement of
volunteers and about the activities held in parks and open spaces
in Islington including the various challenges experienced. They
made the following points -
with the assistance of the Greenspace Team, the Friends of the Park
Forum (an umbrella organisation) was set up for Friends groups
across the borough. It met twice a month to exchange ideas,
information and expertise.
Paradise Park came into existence to address antisocial behaviour
within the park and, following discussions with the Greenspace team
and residents, a decision was taken to take control over the
management of the park.
inception, Friends of Paradise Park (FPP) has facilitated community
events which has attracted new families with children into the park
with the result that anti-social activities has been diverted
and facilitates events with the aim of encouraging local residents
to use the parks especially in the summer weekends. FPP has a
Service Level Agreement with the Council. It relies on volunteers, some with gardening
experience, to carry out routine maintenance tasks such as weeding,
planting small plants, litter picking and tidying up.
was advised that FPP organises weekly activities and holds a
monthly meeting in the community centre to discuss a range of
issues and programmes, often with Greenspace officers in
attendance. Members were informed that while some friends groups
are an off shoot of their Tenant Resident Associations, Friends of
Paradise Park consists of a small group of local
to questions about information sharing among Forum members, Barry
Edwards advised that issues about gardening and planting are
discussed. Friends’ groups promote their events, share ideas
and experiences, and if required the forum could be used as place
to undertake consultation by the Greenspace team.
· With regards to provision of compost to groups, there had previously been the option of a large delivery from NLWA which was very welcome. However due to policy changes from NLWA, this may no longer be an option. Also storage can be a nuisance to adjacent residential properties.
In terms of
resident engagement, promotion and publicity of events, the meeting
was informed that events are crucial to encourage residents to go
into the parks. Groups advertise their
events differently. The simplest method
is posters on park railings. With
larger community events held in the summer, publicity is often done
via leafletting by volunteers, the use of social media and the
administrative support from Park Services.
· On the issue raised at a recent Friends Forum meeting of some friends group not being aware of initiatives such as the Mayor of London’s tree planting or free bulbs, the Chair noted that information sharing was an issue in this area. It would be helpful if this could be improved as currently groups are missing out.
· Barry Edwards acknowledged that the Service Level Agreement it had with the Council was valuable as it enables the group to manage Paradise Park. In addition, FPP supplements its income with additional funds including those received from local businesses and Arsenal to enable it to put on events. The meeting was advised funds are used to purchase seedlings and plants, however in cases of facilitating larger events, the cost is shared with Greenspace.
· On the issue of fundraising, groups such as FFP are run by a small number of volunteers who find it challenging to complete bid application forms that request a lot of information.
The Chair thanked Barry
Edwards and Jenny Chan for sharing their experiences and invited
both Lisa Gani and Jerry Gutwin, Events Officer and Park Services
Manager to address the Committee on the activities of the Events
Team, the application process and challenges. The following points
· Events held in Islington Parks had been managed by the Green Space Admin staff, however as the number of event applications continued to increase over the years and brcause of health and safety regulations, this task was transferred to the Community Engagement Officers.
· In 2015 the Event applications process went online, with a dedicated events team managing over 200 annual events held in the parks.
· Members were reminded that the council has a duty of care to all park users hence the need to understand and manage what is going on in the parks and to ensure that the events are safe and appropriate.
explained the application process involves the applicant completing
an event questionnaire and providing evidence including a risk
assessment. Officers then consult with
other in-house departments for advice and approval.
officers explained that where licenses or permits are required
especially with food and drinks being sold, amplified music being
played or the size of the stalls or gazebos being erected, it is
imperative that other departments are consulted and their
recommendation accepted as they have the expertise.
to a question, the Events Officer advised that events which are
deemed to have any risk will be required to submit evidence of
public liability insurance.
· The meeting was informed that events with more than 50 people in attendance, those with catering, involving performances, showing a film, using gas BBQ require an application. Smaller events such as picnics, history or nature walks, professional dog walking and charcoal BBQ do not require an application.
In terms of
the time taken to complete an application, officer advised that
larger events of 1,000 or more would take at least 90 days to
process while small to medium events, between 30-45 days.
application is made through EventApp.
All the supporting documents are uploaded through the
advised that EventApp automatically
creates an event calendar to avoid clashes and to assist other
teams impacted by park events. The app is used to communicate with
the event organiser throughout the process on issues such as fees
and consultation with the various teams and it issues the event
permit. As each action is logged there is an audit trail.
advised that despite the initial teething issues it is a lot more
efficient in comparison to the previous booking system. Delays in
some instances could arise especially if the application is
dependent on other sections like licensing where their timescales
are not always in line with the Parks Service.
· Members were advised that delays can arise as not every Council departments engages with EventApp and in some cases departments regard park events as low priority in relation to their day to day responsibilities. IT can cause delays as sometimes it doesn’t always work efficiently and the level of support received from Digital Services is inconsistent.
· With regards to challenges experienced by applicants, officers advised that as the EventApp is web-based, some applicants find the system difficult to work with and some applicants are initially unaware of the amount of time and effort required to get approval for an event. Changes in regulations can cause delays especially when it results in a further request for additional licenses or certification and incurs extra costs. Officer support to help applicants can fluctuate due to capacity.
challenges highlighted above, the Team continues to offer support
and advice through the application process. In addition Greenspace advocates on behalf of
applicants with other teams such where a Temporary Structure
License may be required for the use of gazebos.
· Officers continue to work with Apply4, the developers of EventApp to improve the applicant’s journey. Officers from different teams are invited to review the whole process.
to waste management issues in parks, members were advised that
applicants are encouraged to put on sustainable events. Where it is
a big event, applicants are encouraged to liaise with the
Council’s commercial waste team and promote recycling by
ensuring that containers are in position
advised that the App is used by many London boroughs and with
regard to the suggestion that the App could be internalised and
used by other Council services, the meeting was advised that the
system was built to deal with events in parks (and film
applications) so it is unlikely other teams in the Council will
was advised that there has been an increase in event applications
processed through the App since it’s launch.
advised that the App serve as a ‘one stop shop’ and
applicants who carry out regular events would only be required to
upload documents once.
advised that Safety Advisory meetings are held with applicants
especially if the event is likely to have a significant impact on
the site or surrounding area.
to some concerns that the process was about gathering more
information and was too complicated, the officer advised that the
essence of the whole application process was concern for public
In terms of
increasing the capacity of park activities, the meeting was advised
that this requires a balance between raising income and ensuring
that the events do not impact on the amenity of the residents and
· Members were advised that demand for commercial events is increasing. Event Officers will ask event organisers to incorporate things which benefits the local community into their activities, such as inviting local groups to participate or enjoy activities, or donating to the Mayor’s charity.
The Chair thanked Officers for their presentation.