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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Easter Egg Hunt Cancelled

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel this event and the Preston Village Open Day in June.

Let’s hope for better luck next year.

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Easter Egg Hunt – 12th April

This popular annual event is just around the corner, so make a note in your diaries. You may remember that last year’s event was held in blazing sunshine – it barely seems possible!

It costs just £1 for accompanied children under 12 to take part. The children are tasked with tracking down the answers to questions about interesting features of Preston park with the incentive of an Easter Egg. There will also be face painting and a rock painting competition, with the chance to win a monster Easter egg.

Meet near the Chalet Cafe at the North end of the park (NOT as in previous years), from 10.30 to 2.30.

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Preston Manor to be taken over by a Trust

On the first of April, Preston Manor and its grounds, including the historic walled garden and the croquet lawn, will become the responsibility of a Trust, rather than the Council. It is hoped that the new trustees will be able to recruit 1 or 2 gardeners dedicated to that area. We wish the new Trust well.

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Cutting back the shrubbery

Some Friends of Preston park members have expressed concern at the radical cutting back of vegetation between the east end of Lime Tree Walk and the cycle track. We talked to park staff who say this level of cutting back is normal and planned. The vegetation will grow back very quickly. To minimise the effect on wildlife the cutting back is phased over several years.

Extraordinarily, in clearing that relatively small area, the parks staff took over four truck loads of rubbish!

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Good progress on re-pointing the clock tower

You may have seen these guys from Lea Bealing Stonemasons working on re-pointing the Clock Tower. Work is progressing well and they reckon there is about six weeks work to do, allowing for good weather (?!!).

The clock mechanism is also due to be repaired soon.

The tower was designed by Francis May, who said that he wanted it finished in terracotta because he felt that a more standard white marble tower, set in green fields and surrounded by trees, would look too much like a funeral monument. The tower was paid for by Edward White (whose initials EW adorn the tower), and work was completed in 1892.

It will be good to see the tower restored to its former glory.

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Repair work under way on the flint walls

You may have seen the Flint Wall Company busy at work repairing the flint wall above the cycle track. It will look amazing when all done.

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