Petition To Help 'Save' Dukes Meadows From Council Plans

Local Trust claims its been 'sidelined' from Hounslow 'strategy' for the amenity


Dukes Meadows Wins Parks Award

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A leading member of the Dukes Meadows Trust has criticised Hounslow Council for proposing a 'development strategy' without any consultation with the Trust which has regenerated the area.

Hounslow Council has defended its plan for a new strategy saying the area has suffered from traveller incursions and anti-social behaviour and it needed "more effective methods " to deal with problems.

Kathleen Healy, a founder of the Trust, who received an MBE for her work in the community amenity area said that the Trust members felt "sidelined" by the Council and had not been given any information of a strategy to develop the area, despite their hard work over the years.

Petition To Help 'Save' Dukes Meadows From Council Plans

She first heard of the matter when an item on the forthcoming Chiswick Area Forum meeting next Tuesday (8 September) was brought to her attention. The item is described as "Developing a long-term strategy for Dukes Meadows, with a presentation by Stefania Horne, Head of Parks Development, and Karen Campbell, Senior Asset Manager, LBH".

Locals in Chiswick have launched a petition calling on Hounslow Council not to re-develop the Dukes Meadows amenity without consulting the Trust. Almost 300 signatures had been received thus far. The petition, addressed to the leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Steve Curran, calls for "Hounslow Council to support Dukes Meadows Trust and stop undermining its work".

A statement on the issue from Cllr Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council said, "Regular users of Duke’s Meadow will be aware that we have had a number of difficulties this summer in this much-loved park. In particular we experienced incursions by travellers and an increased level of reports of anti-social behaviour which have generated many complaints.

“We believe that we need to consider more effective methods of dealing with such problems and to build on the excellent work that the Dukes Meadows Trust have done to revitalise the parklands.

"Our aim at the Chiswick Area Forum on 8 September is simply to introduce our intention to draw up a masterplan for increasing use of the park and to establish what improvements are required and the ways we can fund them.

Ms. Healy, who is now development manager of Dukes Meadows, told that it was demoralising and frustrating to hear that the Council was developing a strategy for the Park without any mention to the members of the Trust and the volunteers who had worked tirelessly, raising over £1million to improve the area. She said she planned to attend the CAF meeting and raise the issue.

"It doesn't seem unreasonable to ask that they consult us- if they are developing a strategic plan it doesn't inspire confidence that they would alienate a group who have worked for fifteen years to improve the area."

The work of the Dukes Meadows Trust, helped by volunteers, has resulted in a Green Flag award for being one of the best parks in the country. Their fundraising has enabled them to create two high quality play areas, one of which they manage themselves, as well as planting orchards, meadows and hedgerows. The site hosts a popular water play area, a Sunday farmer's market and art studios which contribute to the upkeep of the amenity area. A number of free family events are held throughout the summer, ranging from donkey rides to circus acts.

The petition, which has nearly 300 signatures states; "We call on Cllr Curran to ensure that any plans for Dukes Meadows are led by Dukes Meadows Trust, which has demonstrated its competence and strategic ability in making improvements to the park, is closely engaged with the community and clubs who use the meadows and has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the area. We also ask that any resources made available to improve the meadows are given to the trust to manage, so that best value for money and quality of work is achieved."

Carillion manage the parks on behalf of the council, and maintain many of the facilities provided, including the play areas, sports facilities, trees, grass and flower beds. However the relationship between Carillion and the Trust has of late not been an easy one.

Hounslow Council said: "We are firmly committed to developing the masterplan with the local community – including local councillors and the Dukes Meadow Trust.  This is the start of the discussion not the end and we intend to engage the Trust in this process, including the selection and brief for the masterplanners. 

"Dukes Meadows is an incredible asset for our residents and we will ensure that everyone who has an interest will have their say."

You can read more on the forum.

September 3, 2015

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