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Blog 20: Chairman's Update (Hyde Park)

Blog 20: Chairman's Update (Hyde Park)

The Parade Ground
Since all major events have been cancelled, there is now an inviting open space which has become the target for all sorts of illegal activities.

There have been protests, attempts to take it over by campers, and a go at setting up a music festival complete with a stage, loudspeakers, and plenty of lorries on site. All these were illegal and thanks to police intelligence some of them were cut off quickly. These involved thousands of people, and plenty of violence, it is a terrifying thought that this part of London could become a ‘go to spot’ to start any kind of activity of this kind.

When they have notice, the managers have been able to close roads, shut the Park early and there has been, especially recently, a high level of police support. About 250 tactical support officers turned up to the last demonstration about two weeks ago and moved the thousands of protesters on. The Parks police are not equipped for such large violent crowds and are relieved to have this level of support. There were many issues being protested all at the same time, a nightmare.

Good news stories
Rotten Row had become so worn it was unusable for horses. The MOD has provided 100% funding to renovate a stretch between West Carriage Drive and the Dell. On completion they will also provide income to help maintain it.

The ride had become compacted with large lumps of rubble risen to the surface which I understand were remains of the Blitz. It was sloping down to one side so the sand drifted downwards and the edges had collapsed. The rubble has been crushed and forms a stable base, edging boards installed and 150ml of height is being moved from one side to the other. The sand is being cleaned and reused and more sand brought in.

It is an entirely sustainable project with nothing at all being disposed of.

North Carriage Drive
Now closed to traffic for a trial few months. It has been the site for some months of a Covid testing station.

A Swale has been designed and built to take heavy rain water away from the road and spread it over the grass to create a marshy environment which will become the home to special plants and insects. It develops mini waterfalls in heavy rain.

Planting will continue to grow to soften the edges and a small tweak to the design will stop one section becoming a permanent unintended pond.

South Carriage Drive
Closed for the time being. The London Mayor put a cycle track along the length of Park Lane which went across the Queen Elizabeth gates. There is no safe way out of them now.

Major Events
Are all cancelled and there are no small events either. So it follows there’s no income from these. Winter Wonderland was the major contributor to funding. Staff levels have dropped accordingly.

The Information Kiosk
Situated at Hyde Park Corner was run by volunteers who are mostly members of the Friends. We hope it might be able to reopen if Covid-secure arrangements are possible.

Serpentine swimming
Open for members of the club after a closed period. However the public swimming at the Lido was not able to reopen with the necessary safety measures in place.

Improvements to the clubs changing facilities, long planned for the near future, are now on hold as funding has evaporated.

Wimbledon winners might emerge from the ‘Will to Win’ Tennis centre (we could do with another tennis star) which is also open for bowls and PADEL. Or you could just relax at one of their many tables spread out in their gardens, enjoy a coffee and admire future champions.

The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen
Quiet and very well organised. It’s the first time I have ordered and paid on my iPhone, and magically the food arrives in about five minutes, so no queuing.

Tourists
Now thin on the ground so it is quiet at the boat house although all craft are shipshape and ready for a possible influx of potential Olympic oarsmen during staycation half term.

The Lido cafe is also open
Will be my next port of call so will report in another blog, if I make it after all this eating and drinking. Do support them all, they need encouragement from us.

Liberty Drives Charity
Sadly been wound up. Does anybody have a fairy godmother, or possibly more usefully a charitable foundation or trust which might be able to fund the running of this small fleet of vehicles? They are designed to give less mobile visitors a chance to see round the Parks and have been immensely popular and always solidly booked. They will be badly missed.

Bad Behaviour
I have not dwelled on this except to confirm that the police have issued dozens more penalty notices to ‘off piste’ cyclists during this period compared to the same time last year.

The next thing to raise your blood pressure is the influx of electric scooters which our officer has told me are already all over the Parks in large numbers and will only get more numerous if we look at other capital cities.

The police numbers are up to strength and have extra support from other branches including diplomatic police who you may have seen in their bright red vehicles ….which they never get out of!

Robberies are way down in both Parks compared to the same period last year, but anti-social behaviour and criminal damage is depressingly high.

Trustees
We have been meeting regularly thanks to Zoom and are getting almost proficient, but we are frustrated that we can’t do more for you members. We had teed-up three small, informal, parks-based events for this autumn only to have the rug pulled from under our feet as soon as we started looking forward.

This is one way of passing news on to you all. Some of you who visit regularly may have interesting things to add and we would be very pleased to hear from you. Email membership@fhpkg.org.uk if you so wish.

The trustees and I thank you all for your support and patience and we are indebted to the managers, police, and all the Parks staff who give us so much time and help.

I hope you all stay well and are able to continue to enjoy the fresh air in both Parks during a glorious Autumn, and maybe even a crisp Winter.

Sue Price
Chairman

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