Vote for the best Preston Park photos of 2020

The theme of this year’s competition was ‘the colours of the park’. The competition was open to amateur photographers of all ages, with a maximum of four photos per competitor.

From well over 100 entries, we have selected a shortlist of 30 from which you get to vote for your five favourites. Based on your votes, we will award prizes to the five photos with the most votes.

We will announce the results by the end of October.

The winning entries plus a selection of others will appear in our 2021 Calendar.

Select your favourites now

VOTING ENDS 10TH OCTOBER

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Anti-social behaviour

The committee of the Friends of Preston Park is very disappointed by the high level of anti-social behaviour and vandalism in the Park and the surrounding area in the past few months. There has been an unusually high rate of incidents, ranging from repeated offensive and ugly graffiti on the Chalet Cafe, digging up of part of the cricket pitch and nearby bowling greens, damage to the newly-restored flint walls by the velodrome just days after it was completed, and damage to trees and flower beds, often by vehicles illegally entering the Park.

Litter has been at unacceptably high levels, which as well as being unsightly, also attracts vermin, and much of the rubbish does harm to local wildlife. More and more people are parking illegally and the van dwellers, which have now been served with notices of eviction, are just ignoring them and carrying on inhabiting the Park with many reports of very anti-social behaviour. There have also been complaints too about high levels of noise and music, particularly in the evenings, which neighbours find very annoying and disruptive.

We feel that one of the reasons for all this is that, with continuing cutbacks to budgets, the Council just does not have enough staff to supervise the Park, Sussex Police are no longer able to fund dedicated community police officers, and little enforcement of parking regulations is being carried out. As a result, the minority are openly flouting laws and regulations designed to look after the Park.

We plan to meet with our local councillors and council officers over the coming weeks to discuss how we tackle these issues and what we can do to keep Preston Park safer and more well kept. Meanwhile, we would urge that anyone witnessing anti-social behaviour of any kind to report it by calling Sussex Police on 101, or reporting on the Sussex Police website. The more calls they receive, the more likely they will patrol the Park. Please do your part in stopping this costly and distressing behaviour.

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Accolade for the Rockery

Some of you may have seen the six-page spread about our beautiful Rockery Garden and an interview with our wonderful garden manager Andy in the August edition of the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society magazine. This is a real accolade for Preston Park, and testimony to all the hard work put in by Andy and his team of volunteer gardeners who created and maintain the Rockery Garden. The article has created a lot of interest far and wide, and many people have contacted us for details about visiting Preston Park.

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Volunteering resumes in the park

Hopefully, you will have noticed that, at last, the volunteer gardening groups were given the go-ahead by City Parks to return to work (within COVID 19 guidelines) at the beginning of August. It’s been a mammoth task trying to catch up on nearly six months of weeding, deadheading, pruning and hoeing. We have a long way to go before the Park is anywhere near back to its best, so while we have had several very welcome new recruits, we always need more!

The groups meet at the Rose Garden on Tuesdays, the Rockery on Wednesdays, and the front flower beds on Thursdays between 10 am and 1 pm. You need no previous experience of gardening, you will be shown what to do, and if you can’t make the full 3 hours, any time you can spare will be most useful. Please contact us if you would like to come along to join us. It’s very satisfying to see what a difference the volunteer gardening makes, and all the groups are friendly and welcoming.

Some of you have asked what is happening to the Walled Garden as it really is suffering from the absence of its committed volunteer group. Unfortunately, the heritage Walled Garden is managed by Preston Manor, not Preston Park, so is overseen by the Museums sector of the Council, not City Parks. We understand that they are not allowing any volunteer working just yet. In the meantime, we know that the volunteers are desperate to return as the garden is now in a terrible state.

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Some TLC for the Tile House

It is good to see the new tenants of the Tile House have given the building a lick of paint.

In case you don’t know, the Tile House was constructed to coincide with the opening of the park in 1884. It was bought from the Bath and West of England Show, where it was used by the Aylesbury Tile Company to show off their wares. It was spotted by a member of Brighton Corporation who organised for it to be deconstructed and then re-built in the park. It is now Grade II listed.

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The clock tower restoration is now complete

Good news! The clock has now been serviced and tells the time perfectly. This complements the wonderful restoration of the tower as a whole.

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What you think of Preston Park

We’ve now analysed the results of our 2020 park user survey, which was completed just before lockdown. Thanks to those Friends of Preston Park who participated.

See the results

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Can you help us prevent Dutch Elm Disease?

We have received this message from Peter Bourne (Volunteer Curator for the National Elm Collection in Brighton and Hove, UK):

Brighton and Hove City Council is putting out an urgent message for help this year with Dutch elm disease. This year, infections started early with the mild temperatures experienced in May. With temperatures exceeding 20C, the Elm Bark Beetle population has emerged with active feeding and breeding on local elms.

The beetle itself is the reason why Dutch elm disease (DED) is spread. Unfortunately, they often come into the city via transportation and too often through logs bought for wood stoves. The main concern at the moment is to eradicate the dying elms from our city’s streets and open areas like parks, housing estates and cemeteries.

The elm population, like that at Preston Park, consists of some the British Isles’ largest and tallest Champion Trees (as pointed out by the Tree Register) along with some of the most endangered cultivars left in the world. The Arboricultural Team of Brighton and Hove City Council are requesting anyone who wants to help with Dutch Elm Disease spotting to do so by sending any of their findings to myself, Peter Bourne (National Elm Collection Volunteer Curator), who will verify the findings and pass them onto the city council for attention. Anyone with a knowledge of Dutch Elm Disease or who simply wants to help can do so.

We have issued a DED Spotter’s Guide to people wanting to help but who have limited knowledge – it’s a simple, visual guide which will make spotting DED much easier.

Thank you for reading this plea for assistance.

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Park News – June 2020

COVID-19

In these difficult times, the park is a welcoming haven for many who perhaps do not have access to outdoor space. While we welcome park users, we would like to remind the public of the current government directives that people should respect the two-metre space between those living in different households. Further information

Cafés

Great news! Both the Rotunda and Chalet Cafés have opened again. The public toilets are also open.

Wild flower garden

You may be wondering what has happened to the Wild Flower Garden, which has been a glorious and colourful addition to Preston Park in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, it has been hit by repercussions from Covid-19 and the hot dry spring.

Last year, City Parks planned an early heavy mulch for the fields, which, being former bowling greens, are very sandy and not ideal for meadow flowers. They then intended to reseed for a great summer show. However, with only a skeleton staff of three as lockdown happened, there was no time to carry out the mulching or seeding. Normally, as most of the flowers are self-seeding, we would still have had a good display, but the very dry and warm conditions in Spring means that only a few hardy survivors have poked through.

City Parks hope to be able to mulch in the autumn and seed again next spring so we should be back to full glory then.

Anti-social behaviour

We recently had a report of a very unpleasant verbal attack by some youngsters on a local resident and her family while they were enjoying the Park. The family were very shaken and disturbed and reported it to the police. If you encounter any form of anti-social behaviour while using the Park, again please report it on 101. If the police are made aware of trouble spots they will direct resources to protect a safe and secure environment in Preston Park.

The police also told us that a lot of their stretched and limited resources are needed to break up late-night parties, involving drinking and loud music, mainly by young people in Preston Park. As well as being in clear breach of lockdown rules and therefore a direct risk to their families, it explains the high levels of rubbish left in the Park each morning. Please make sure that members of your family or friends are aware that this is unacceptable behaviour, especially so during the lockdown.

Rose Garden

After all the hard work of City Parks and the volunteer gardeners last year, the Rose Garden is looking magnificent this year. We hope that, with the return of most of the furloughed gardeners, the volunteers will also be able to resume work to clear the weeds and tidy the beds within a safe environment. Meanwhile, please do not walk through the beds as it crushes and destroys the roses.

Car parking

Most of you will have seen a number of vans and lorries with people living in them, parked semi-permanently in the middle of the car park, next to Preston Park Avenue. Some of you have contacted us to ask why they are not being made to move on, so we have been talking to the Council and the police.

We understand that, following government guidance relating to travellers and vulnerable people during the lockdown, the Council is not taking enforcement action to move people on, and so lessening the risk of spreading Coronavirus. It was decided by the Travellers Liaison Team to direct Brighton’s van and lorry dwellers to Preston Park, so currently there are about 15 vehicles parked in the main car park, with others turning up for shorter periods. The Team say they are in regular contact with the van dwellers in Brighton as a whole and liaise closely with the Police to monitor and manage the situation.

Both the team and Sussex Police have told us that if anyone sees or experiences anti-social behaviour resulting from this policy to report it directly to the police by calling 101 or reporting it on the Sussex Police website.

While we understand the logic of not moving people living in the vehicles around Brighton and surrounding areas during the lockdown, we do not think that Preston Park is a suitable site to place them. The car park is busy with visitors wishing to use the park, and with a large part now occupied, the drive leading to the car park is very crowded and busy and a danger to pedestrians.

Some members have reported to us that anti-social behaviour such as parties in the evening are taking place. And more and more camper vans and similar vehicles seem to be joining the original group, making the situation worse. So do call 101 to report any anti-social behaviour and meanwhile, we will talk to our councillors and the Council to find a more appropriate place with better facilities to house the van dwellers.

Rotunda Pond

The wildlife in the Rotunda Pond has had a difficult time this summer, sadly leading to the death of many of the protected newts. Please note that the pond is checked on a daily basis and that it is illegal to remove or add anything to the water. The removal of plants does mean the newts and snails have fewer places in which to hide.

Photo Competition

This year’s competition closes on August 31st. Be sure to get your entries in before the deadline.

The Rockery

Currently, The Rockery has survived the absence of its main gardener and volunteers and is looking quite good and healthy. It is envisaged that work will resume this month to get it back to its usual top form.

Velodrome

The Flint Wall Company has completed its work on repairing the flint wall around the cycle track. They have done a really great job and the walls look amazing.

Clock Tower

Work has resumed on the Clock Tower, and the guys from Lea Bealing Stonemasons are continuing the re-pointing. Hopefully, the clock mechanism will be repaired soon. It will be good to see the tower restored to its former glory.

Volunteer Groups

There are several volunteer gardening groups in Preston Park. Currently, we are awaiting a decision from the council as to when they can restart. If you wish to volunteer, please contact us.

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New COVID-19 website for Brighton and Hove

A new online coronavirus help directory has launched, providing trusted information on COVID-19 to residents of Brighton & Hove.

COVID Brighton & Hove is a new central resource which will be updated daily with the latest welfare advice, support offers, public health advice and all the vital rapidly changing information on COVID-19. It has a special focus on protecting and supporting the most vulnerable and excluded members of our communities.

Local charities Community Works and The Trust for Developing Communities set up this website in coordination with Brighton & Hove City Council, health organisations and local charities and community groups. The project was made possible by support from NHS Brighton & Hove Clinical Commissioning Group and Sussex Community Foundation.

The site addresses the needs of people in Brighton and Hove, focusing on the central question of “How can we help you?”. People can use the site to find help with everything from food shopping or getting a prescription, to coping with loneliness or finding advice about money and benefits. They can also use it on behalf of a friend, family member or neighbour who they’re worried about.

TDC Chief Executive Athol Halle said: “It’s vital that anyone who needs help has a place to go to get up-to-date information. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of which services are open and how to get hold of support. The website will provide verified information for everyone in the city, linking trusted sources together in a single access point.”

Community Works CEO Jessica Sumner said: “The response to the coronavirus situation by charities, community groups, volunteers, the Council, and the NHS across the city has been incredible. While it’s been a really challenging time for lots of people, this crisis has also shown the best of the city and how we can work together to help each other. We hope that covidbrightonhove.org.uk will be an easy-to-access website that brings everything together – from Mutual Aid groups to mental health support.”

You can find the site at https://covidbrightonhove.org.uk/

The Trust for Developing Communities is a charity tackling inequality across the city, and Community Works connects charities, volunteers and businesses in Brighton, Hove, Adur and Worthing.

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