Tuesday, 1 July 2014

One hundred blogs

Summer months are busy months, and as regular visitors to this blog site have realised, there was no post last weekend.  Which was probably a pity because we then reached our centenary.  One hundred posts.   The St Albans' Own East End main site contains a feature called One Hundred Objects (which represent the East End of St Albans).  It is therefore about time that an index to the blog stories is included.  That is something for the autumn; and having briefly celebrated the blog birthday, it is time to move on.

At the end of June each year Fleetville celebrates with a community event under the Larks in the Parks brand, or Larks on the Rec.  The 2014 event, last Sunday, was doing some celebrating of its own.  Larks was ten years old.  By general acceptance there were more activities, more visitors and more entertainment.  While a number of visitors arrived for a spell and then left, lots of people spent the whole day Larking, even picnicking under the trees.

The rec itself was also celebrating a birthday.  It was in 1913 that Charles Woollam purchased the field from the trustees of T E Smith's estate, and gave it to the city "for the recreation of the people of Fleetville".  The city council ensured the space was adequate enough to use by the following year, and installed a boundary fence.  The rec was therefore available for recreational use, which makes 2014 the centenary of the rec.

Another open space is even older, and its benefactor, Sir John Blundell Maple, ensured that the section of Clarence Park devoted to organised sporting activity, was retained as such for the people of St Albans, through a trust deed.  Because the southern section of the park was "ornamental" and not used for sporting activity, the trust deed was not considered necessary  there.

This disparity has exercised the minds of the council in recent years, to ensure that governance of the whole park is more simply structured, making it easier to apply for funds to improve and upgrade facilities (toilets fit for purpose would be a start!).

The football club also announced that it was considering upgrading its facilities, either in the park or on another site.  News that its lease would shortly be reviewed, as well as the above-mentioned governance issue, were in people's minds at the same time, alerted nearby residents to possible changes over the way the park may be used in future, or the way the traditional Edwardian space may look.

Thus were born two new organisations.  The first was a residents' association for the home occupiers of the roads surrounding the park.  And the second was the Protect Clarence Park group, open to anyone who has an interest or concern for protecting the park as an open resource for all.  The residents' group is now a member of the City Neighbourhoods Committee.

Issues of concern currently include lighting, the state of the pavilion and lodge,  temporary closure of a footpath, the renewal of the football club lease, and the agreement between the council and Verdi's, which may or may not be part of the park, depending on your historical definition of the boundary.

Between the various groups and the council it should be possible to keep a guardian watch over the well-being of the park and its many users.  And all of us will be grateful for the work they have set out to achieve.

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