Monday, 28 February 2011

Hackney's biodiversity plan

We have been trying to find out how Millfields will feature in Hackney’s Biodiversity Action Plan. There’s useful background on the plans across Hackney at: 
It includes the Introduction to the Hackney Biodiversity Action Plan 2011-2016, (copied here for ease of reference Intro to Hackney BAP)
There are opportunities for people to get involved via the Hackney Biodiversity Partnership (HBP) which is working with the council to develop a Hackney Biodviersity Action Plan; provide local expertise about parks and wildlife sites; take part in biodiversity project and events. Again the minutes for these meetings on Hackney’s website. Kate Mitchell, Biodiversity Officer for Hackney has helpfully advised us the Biodiversity Action Plan will go to public consultation within the next couple of weeks for 8 weeks. In advance of that, if you want to see the draft, we’re sure she’ll be happy to share this with you at:

Kate also advised she was meeting with MUG committee this evening to discuss the “final” plans for the Millfields Biodiversity Project which is being funded by from the S106 (planning obligations) funding from the Paradise Park development (see earlier posting for details on this).  It’s very concerning the plans are being finalised without MUG members being sent and adequately consulted on the details of the plans. 
£12k of the £50k of s106 funding available was spent on a Millfields Recreation Ground habitat survey and a review of future management options  and draft 5 year work plan.  The work was undertaken by London Wildlife Trust which reported in October 2010. It’s a really interesting, comprehensive report and its strange this has never been shared with MUG members. A presentation was given at last month’s MUG AGM on biodiversity but very little of the contents of the report were captured in this - including the draft 5 year plan. If the MUG Committee decide not to make the report generally available – we will publish it here as it ought to be in the public domain. MUG members must be consulted properly before any plans are finalised.

only in hackney

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Masterplan Project 9

Hackney's Park Development Officer recently confirmed

"Project 9 of the Millfields Masterplan is also being explored.  A new path is being designed which will connect the central path running through Millfields South with the existing path running alongside the River Lea and the waste transfer station.  Once a path line has been drafted, it will be passed to the user group and other interested parties for their comment.  At this point in time there is no confirmation on whether the external funding proposed for this development is available.”

 We thought it might be useful to remind folk of what the Masterplan actually said about the project: 

We guess this project is being pursued because funding might be available if it is regarded as key route for pedestrians and cyclists to travel to the Olympic Park (via the Lea Navigation Tow Path at Cow Bridge).  We’ll need to wait and see.
As the link on the Hackney website to the full Masterplan document hasn’t worked in some time and it hasn’t been sent to MUG members (and despite it largely now being dead in the water), we’ve included a link here so it is at least publicly available to park users:

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Not a bad way to start the day...

 Taken this morning on our way to work through the park (on the path nearest southwold road). We think the ones on the left are goldfinches. There are lots of different bird types darting back and forwards between the feeders and london planes.  It's wonderful to watch and we've started building in time to stop & watch into our journey time. We love living by millfields.   

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Well that didn't hurt, did it?

Don't you feel better for sharing with the group? 

Millfields Users Group: Project priorities and National Grid rent: "From our LBH Parks Development Officer, Bruce Irving 'Millfields MasterplanThe Millfields Park User group identified a number of projects fr..."

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Monday, 14 February 2011

Warning: property of the Committee

One of the issues we had been battling to get to the bottom of, via last year's MUG Committee, was  details of National Grid's licence agreement with Hackney Council for its sub-station in Millfields. In particular:

1. What is the annual amount National Grid pay Hackney Council for the site on Millfields? How long has this arrangement been in place?

2. What are the terms of the agreement between Hackney Council and National Grid about how this money should be spent (for example, is it intended to finance the general upkeep of the Millfields park, specific masterplan projects within Millfields or is it not intended for use on the park?).

3. How have the funds received been spent over the last three financial years?

4. How much funds received from National Grid under this arrangement is still available for spending on Millfields?

The reason this is particularly important is to ensure there is complete transparency that the decision on the alternative route through the park for National Grid is completely independent of any funding National Grid might provide towards a Master Plan project.  One can not be allowed to determine the other. It is also very important, given the financial situation, which is going to mean that even funding for basic maintenance will be an issue this year.

Having got nowhere trying to get a definitive response via the Committee, Millfields Blog resorted to an FOI request which is due for reply within the next few days. Coincidently, Cllr Rathbone, the outgoing Chair, has finally now responded to us with the information. But he has told us we can't share it with you:

"The information is not public, it is the property of the committee to which it is submitted to so should not be generally released without the agreement of the Secretary and/or Chair." 

So we have the information, but you can't (or not at least until we get our FOI response)! 

In the meantime, if you're interested to know the answer please email the new Chair and Secretary to request the information. Their respective email addresses are:-


(You might also want to ask them if they intend for this year's Committee meeting minutes in future to be shared with park users - policy to date is MUG members don't get to see them.)
If you'd like to email Cllr Rathbone on why he didn't think the AGM might be a good opportunity to consult park users on how the NG funding available might have been used on the park this year, his email address is:

Saturday, 12 February 2011

and on a cheerier note.....

the snowdrops are out in Millfields south.

Returning to the back benches…..

Millfields Blog is returning to the MUG backbenches having come last in the election at the AGM for this year’s MUG Committee. The Blog will continue unaffected (with perhaps a few more FOI requests winging their way to Hackney’s park department). However, at the risk of being accused of sour grapes, I have to say it was the most bizarre election I’ve ever come across. I’m still not sure quite what took place.
Cllr Rathbone read out a list of 12 names of people who he said had indicated they wanted to stand for the committee. Two additional attendees indicated they also wanted to stand triggering a vote for the 12 available places. Nobody standing was asked to say anything, such as what they thought they might bring to the Committee if elected, so that people could make informed votes.
Cllr Rathbone asked people to write down the names of six people they wanted on the committee. When this resulted in confusion, he asked people to write down all of the names of those standing and to put crosses against those they wanted on the committee - it wasn’t clear if this meant they still had six votes or if they could vote up to 12.  I still don’t know the answer to that one.Votes were counted by someone who was also standing for the committee. Nobody independent oversaw the process (the parks department, once again, couldn’t be arsed to turn up).
Cllr Rathbone  - is this really how elections are run in Hackney???
Most worrying of all Hillstowe Street, a key stakeholder in the future of the park given its ongoing shoddy treatment by National Grid, was left without a voice on the Committee as Wendy Reid also failed to get elected.

Monday, 7 February 2011


Thursday's MUG's AGM will decide on a proposal to change the name for the group from Millfields Users' Group (MUG) to Friends of Millfields (FOM) (full agenda below).

Although MUGs has always been an unfortunate acronym, we'd be sorry to see the group lose "users" from its name. "Users" suggests it is our park and we have should have a voice in how it is looked after. It's more empowering than "Friends" which sounds like a hobby for nice people with time on their hands. Wouldn't Millfields Park Users' Group (MPUG) be better? Anyway, whatever your view, do turn up and have your say!   

Agenda for the agm below. 

Agenda for the Annual General Meeting

7.30 to 9.00pm Thursday 10 February 2011,
at Nye Bevan Community Hall, Overbury Road E5 0AH

In Attendance: Bruce Irving (Parks Development Officer); Bilquis Mahmood (National Grid)


3 MINUTES of Annual General Meeting on 4 February 2010





8 PRESENTATION: How wild is the life in Millfields Park?
Discussion led by Hackney Council’s Biodiversity Officer

Saturday 7 May 2011 at 10.00 am;
Thursday 28 July 2011 at 7.30 pm;
Saturday 29 October 2011 at 10.00 am
Thursday 9 February 2012 at 7.30 pm (AGM)
10 ANY OTHER BUSINESS To be notified to the Chair by the start of the meeting

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Robin Hood Community Garden

 Well done to our neighbours, Robin Hood Users' Group, who were out in force today planting their new orchard! Work continues, so do check out their blog (listed below) if you'd like to get involved. It's going to be a wonderful resource for local communities.

Hackney's Park News

There's some interesting stuff going on in parks across Hackney - do take a look:
Good to see Millfields blog get a mention :-)