January – December 2021
In common with our previous annual report, the ongoing effects of the pandemic have resulted in a shorter report. It comes hot on the heels of the 2020 annual report brought to our AGM in November 2021, as we decided to get back into our natural rhythm of general meetings by holding an EGM in February 2022 in order to deal with the formalities of 2021 year end.
We approached the end of the year with some exciting developments on our Committee. We welcomed three brand new general committee members – Jennie Kiff, who brings local history and archivist experience, Jonathan Young, who is very active in local citizens groups, and Ruth Simpson, with an interest in community involvement. We also welcomed long-standing member John Cosway back for a second stint on the committee. Sheila Parkin, Secretary, stood down in August 2021. Val Harris, Conservation, and Keith Scott, Website, also stood down at the AGM in November. Massive thanks to Sheila, Val and Keith for everything they have contributed as committee members. Pete Shuttleworth took over the committee role for Conservation (although he subsequently resigned in January 2022, as this report was being produced) and Julia has taken on the role of secretary after job-sharing with Sheila for a couple of years. Keith will continue dealing with the website from outside the committee until a new volunteer can be found. There may be good news on that front in early 2022, but if you or anyone you know has web experience and would like to get involved, we’d love to hear from you.
With the ongoing restrictions caused by the pandemic, and the knock-on uncertainty in planning, our calendar of events was again non-existent. This include the Rae Gala and Santa Special, as these two events require lots of forward planning, and in the case of the Santa Special, lots of irrecoverable expenditure, so we chose to leave things for another year, and allow the vaccination programme to hopefully have an effect. Conservation activities continued, with Val co-ordinating the volunteers and making the most of the ventilation and freedom that Northcliffe offers!
I remain hopeful that this proves to be our last shortened annual report, and that we can resume a programme of activities in Northcliffe in 2022. That’s certainly our ambition, with a public meeting themed around this in February 2022. Once again, our thanks to all our members, volunteers and partners in other organisations for continuing to support friends of Northcliffe – it really means a lot to us, and will help ensure we have a continuing voice in how this wonderful space is used and maintained.
This has been an unusual year for our conservation work with some of the early activities having to be put on hold pending relaxation of the Covid rules. The first couple of months were instead spent looking at the ideas that people had put forward in the community consultation the previous autumn and from the biodiversity walks we had organised. This helped to inform us what we might want to do as lockdowns came to an end.
In March, we were able to take forward the project to establish a new annual wild flower strip alongside Springswood Terrace as Cathy organised local people to come out to remove the grass and plant native wildflower seeds and shrubs, and put up a new notice board. We were aided by a young person on their DoE award who planted bluebells and then trimmed the thorn hedge by the allotments.
Until May it was only possible to work in small bubbles so this involved a lot of 1 to 1 work from Val in organising particular activities and individuals offering to take on specific tasks when they were in the park, like clearing the steps of mud and leaves. We were able to clear the trees from our nursery beds into new hedges alongside the bottom allotments and to fill gaps between trees alongside the main path through the park, replacing the cherry trees that are dying off with bird cherry trees, prune roses, rebuild the dead hedge around the bird feeding area and clear mud of some of the paths through the woods.
Lots of walking meeting were held with Council officers from the Town Council and Bradford Met Council, as well as with members of Bradford Beck and biodiversity experts. Advice was also given on siting of gym equipment and discussions held about other park improvements with Council Officers from Open Spaces. As soon as the Guides could start meeting again a local group from Northcliffe Church chose to celebrate by doing our bird walk and then offering to make habitat piles to block off informal paths created during lockdown.
We supported a bid to the Climate Change fund by Nifty Sustainability for a project on the land between Avondale Mount and Springhurst Road, at the top of Scarborough Road, which was partially successful. We have been supporting Jen, Martino and Jon to run community consultation events to see what local people wanted to see happen to that area; this was followed in the autumn by a day of bulb planting, creating a wild flower strip and chipping the informal paths, over 2 dozen people came out to help. We will be doing more support work with Nifty in 2022.
During the summer we continued with what had proved to be a successful model from 2020, whereby groups of friends, individuals and families focused on an adoptive area and scheduled balsam pulling sessions to suit. We were pleased to feel that the efforts of 2020 had been successful, noting reduced populations in the area between the railway and the golf course bridge. The steep gullies and parts of the bank remained a challenge but we managed to cover most of the area with about 20 people involved over the 12 week window for pulling. Other works completed in the summer included laying wood chippings on paths around the bird feeding area as we had been gifted a lot of woodchip so, unusually for us, we met every week in August. We protected an area of developing scrub in the meadow from the tractor drivers who mow and collect the grasses from the meadow each year as part of it regular maintenance.
The autumn saw us trimming the thorn hedge to the North of the allotments and weeding around its base, and planting a mixture of bulbs to the North of the bowling green as the final part of our Cleaner, Greener Shipley project.
Two of our regular midweek helpers Anna and Tessa volunteered to be group leaders and successfully led some of our Tuesday conservation sessions and are taking on more responsibility for organising the sessions.
After being on the committee for some time Val decided in October 2021 that she no longer wanted to attend the meetings but to concentrate on co-ordinating the day to day conservation work in Northcliffe. Pete agreed to take over the committee role and how it links with the group’s activities and is gradually learning about the group and its work (as stated in the previous overview section, Pete subsequently resigned his position in January 2022).
Thanks to working with local groups this was our best year ever for volunteers and for having people to lead the sessions; at the beginning of the year Val was the only leader and now we have 7 plus access to experts at YorGreenCiC and Fruitworks. So thanks to everyone who has turned out to help, to YorGreenCic for the supply of saplings and to Lawrence and Dave for the supply of chippings.
And a huge appreciation to the staff of the parks department who work all year round to keep Northcliffe looking good despite all the pressures they have been under.
We had previously decided as a committee to oppose planning permission for a development that was proposed for the green space at the end of Springhurst/Scarborough Road. Planning permission went through, and so the developer will be building some flats on the site. The land to the side of the path that runs between Scarborough and Springhurst is part of Northcliffe, and has been earmarked for development into a natural and more biodiverse green space by Nifty Sustainability. FoN is supporting this project with donation of bulbs, involvement of the conservation group, and the placement of a new FoN noticeboard on the site to accompany the three other board in Northcliffe.
We became aware through a local residents group that the developer or their contractors had been accessing the land by driving over the part that is within Northcliffe’s boundary. Alongside residents, we made representations to Council Officers and Councillors, who are all supportive of measures to prevent access. At the time of writing, these are still in development, but could take place alongside or as part of the Nifty development mentioned above. We will continue to support residents to ensure their enjoyment of the green space is not impaired by developers trespassing on it.
We had previously lent our support to a proposal to fence off the bowling green, if necessary, due to damage being caused. We became aware around September time that the proposal had been extended by Council officers to encompass not only the green, but to continue across the path around the greens so the bowling lodge was contained too. We consulted members about this, who were almost entirely opposed to this, with one person agreeing. FoN attended a meeting at Shipley Town Hall, attended by members of the bowling club, Town and Ward Councillors, and Council Officers. We made our representations very strongly, and Council officers agreed to come back with options for further discussion and consultation. At our meeting in December, members of the bowling club who have recently joined FoN came along, and we had an informal chat after the meeting (the bowling green issue was not tabled on the agenda). It was made clear to us that bowling club members had not requested the extension of the fence to enclose the house and block the path, so I remain hopeful that an amicable and sensible solution can be found in 2022.
This year has seen the final drafting of all of Tony’s report and a new chapter 15, which chronicles the development of the park since 1920, which was completed from both the notes left by Tony Woods with contributions from others involved in the heritage project. Original photos and missing maps, charts and other bits of information have been located and inserted into the document where required. The compilation of the report is now complete and it runs to some 370 pages, with 18 chapters and 10 Appendices. It contains 92,000 words with many maps, charts and pictures. We are greatly indebted to Val Harris for undertaking the lion’s share of this task and for the active support of Derek Barker in the process.
The Northcliffe Heritage Project had always planned to put Tony's report onto the Heritage Website (www.northcliffeheritage.org.uk) to make it accessible to as many people as possible. This website had been privately set up by Val Harris and Tony Woods as the existing FoN website could not take the very large volume of data needed for the maps and photographs as well as the text that the report will generate. There are links from the FoN website to the Heritage one and vice versa. The Heritage website will be maintained by Val until a decision is made about a new FoN website.
At the time of writing, Friends of Northcliffe have agreed in principle to the funding necessary for further work to enable the report to be mounted on any website and turn the text and images into computer pages. It is hoped this will be completed early in 2022. Once hosted / uploaded people will then be able to dip in and out of the chapters or sections they want when undertaking their own research projects or just looking for that nugget of information. The Heritage website also contains images of the Heritage Display Boards, walks, postcards and other information that has been collected during the course of the project.
The copyright for much of the report’s text is held by Tony Woods’ estate and Derek Barker as his literary heir, and within the report material from 15 other copyright holders of documents and maps has been used, such as the Coal Authority, Earl of Rosse Birr Castle, English Heritage etc. Each copyright holder has given permission for how their material can be used, e.g. display boards, report on web, printed report or summary report. Each image used within the report now has the appropriate copyright source named. The report will be published under a creative commons licence that allows future non-commercial/ non-profit use of the material under certain conditions – including that any future use must attribute the original authors, must be non-profit making, and must place the same conditions on any future sharing (so it cannot end up being used for profit in future).
The following tasks should conclude the project:
Completing the work to enable the report to be uploaded onto the Heritage website.
Completing the layout work required to enable a small print run of the report for copies to be donated to libraries and colleges etc. and purchase by private individuals. (This is being funded by Derek Barker and Jane Robinson)
Preparing a summary document of the Heritage project and its findings
Holding a public meeting ‘The Tony Woods Memorial Lecture’ to launch the publication of the report and website.
As mentioned in the overview, the ongoing uncertainty around restrictions made planning gatherings and events difficult, especially when advance notice is needed. We hope that 2022 will allow us to return to Northcliffe with an events calendar. We are holding a public themed meeting on 21st February 2022 in order to create this.
We have a new volunteer, Sophie Wainright, to help Lucy with the Facebook page. The Facebook page continues to grow with 1,382 people who have ‘liked’ the page and posts can reach up to 20,000 people. The page reports daily events with photographs from within Northcliffe, and publicises events that will be happening in the park. These events often get picked up and shared by other local Facebook pages. People often message the page, with questions or lost /found property, so it fulfils a community service too.
FON also has a Instagram account, which is followed by 209 people and Twitter has 1141 followers. Jon Young looks after both, and these channels are a bit more reactive. Instagram content is largely reposting Northcliffe users pics and Twitter is local interest and announcements.
Membership and Finance
We closed the year on 219 memberships, an increase of 15 on the previous year. As reported previously, not all of these remembered to pay subscriptions, probably due to the pandemic. Steve wrote to everyone in December with a reminder, and anyone still outstanding by the end of the year will regretfully have to be removed from our membership list.
Finances continue to be well managed by Joan Newman and healthy as evidenced by our Annual Accounts.
Report prepared by Steve Bruzzese on behalf of, and with input from, the Committee:
Steve Bruzzese (Chair), Guy Barford (Heritage), Julia Pearson (Secretary), Joan Newman (Treasurer and Membership), Peter Shuttleworth (Conservation), Neil Harrison, Ruth Simpson, Jennie Kiff, Jonathan Young, John Cosway (General Committee Members)
Thanks also to Val Harris for input on Heritage and Conservation.