I am sorry to report another unauthorised encampment by travellers in Westminster Park yesterday evening, 6 April, this time comprising three vehicles and two caravans which are parked in front of the café block. The council and police were informed straightaway and they are now dealing with the matter. As trespass is a civil rather than a criminal issue, the council will be seeking court authorisation for eviction as soon as possible.
Coming only nine months after the previous incident, renewed questions are already being asked by local residents and park users as to whether more permanent protective measures are appropriate such as access barriers or a permanent injunction.
Friends of Westminster Park
Following a succesful bulb-planting working party in November, another working party was organised in December. This time, we were pleased to be joined by an enthusiastic group of children from Belgrave Primary School and their teachers. The planting was filmed by publicity staff from Cheshire West and Chester Council and the video was shown at a Council event in January to record appreciation for the contribution of volunteers in local communities across the county. We can now look forward to a splendid display of daffodils in the spring between the car park and café block and around the sculpture next to the children’s play area. Thank you to everyone who took part in both plantings.
In response to requests for more public seating around the park, particularly for people with mobility difficulties and families with young children, three new park seats have been ordered and are now installed in time for the longer days and better weather in the spring. We are most grateful to a local resident who has donated one of the seats and to our local councillors for contributing towards the cost from their members’ budgets. If any other residents would like to donate a seat or picnic table, we would be delighted to make the arrangements.
Several sports and exercise groups in Westminster Park have expressed their desire for the changing rooms in the café block to be refurbished and brought back into use. Possibilities for doing so are being examined by the Council, Golfstorehouse as operator of the golf course and cafe, and the Friends. Everyone is aware of the financial constraints affecting all public services and the challenge is to find a workable way forward.
Friends of Westminster Park
Following the success of the volunteer working party in collecting litter and other rubbish in Westminster Park as part of the ‘Clean for the Queen’ campaign earlier in the year, another volunteer working party is being held to plant spring bulbs and to tidy some of the shrub beds in Westminster Park.
We will be meeting at the café in the centre of the park at 10.00am on Thursday 10th November and working for about a couple of hours.
Please come along with family and friends to do your part in brightening up Westminster Park. Wear working clothes and stout boots or shoes and with gardening gloves if you have them. Some equipment will be available but it would also be helpful if you could bring gardening tools such as hand or border forks, spades, secateurs and loppers for your own use if you have them.
Please email if you are able to join us, so that we have an idea of numbers – we would like 20-25 helpers if possible.
We are fortunate in having Westminster Park with its wide range of sporting and recreational activities. With your help we can keep it looking at its best.
See you there!
Please support our AGM on Wednesday 30 NOVEMBER 2016 at 8.00pm at Westminster Park Community Centre.
I am pleased to report that the travellers have now left Westminster Park.
A new padlock has been fitted to the gate into the playing field and the Council will be cleaning up the rubbish left behind and repairing any damage.
We extend our sympathies to local residents and users of the park who have been disrupted by the unauthorised incursion by the travellers and to Golfstorehouse whose golf course and cafe business have been adversely affected. At the same time, we are very grateful to the Council and to the police who have dealt with the incident very promptly and efficiently.
We shall be arranging a meeting shortly to review any lessons from the event and to consider any implications and means for reducing the risk of future incursions.
Friends of Westminster Park
Many residents and park users have been asking about the unauthorised encampment in Westminster Park by a group of travellers who arrived on Sunday, 3 July.
The matter was reported promptly to Cheshire West and Chester Council and to the police who are actively dealing with it. Notice has already been served on the occupants to vacate the land by Tuesday, 5 July. If this is not carried out, the Council will apply to Chester Magistrates Court for an eviction hearing.
In reply to a number of questions, trespass on land is not a criminal offence and has to be dealt with through well established civil processes. The removal of trespassers is the responsibility of the landowners and the role of the police is to preserve the peace and prevent crime.
Two councils that we are aware of have produced general Q&A statements. These can be found at:
Cheshire East: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/housing/strategic_housing/gypsies_and_travellers.aspx
Equivalent documents have not been found on the Cheshire West and Chester website but the same general principles apply.
David Guyton – Chairman
As part of the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, a nationwide ‘Clean for the Queen’ campaign has been launched to clean up public spaces such as parks, waterways and beaches by removing litter and other debris.
The Friends of Westminster Park with support from Cheshire West and Chester Council will be holding a litter picking and clean-up session in Westminster Park on Saturday 5 March starting at 10.00am at the cafe in the centre of the park. The Council will provide gloves, black plastic sacks and litter pickers.
Please come with family and friends to do your part in sprucing up Westminster Park. Litter tends to congregate at the bottoms of hedges and in long grass so do wear working clothes and boots or stout shoes.
We plan to split into small groups to tackle the boundaries, working inwards to the car park/ central area.
The new operators of the golf course and café, Golfstorehouse, are continuing to work hard to improve the facilities they took over in April 2015. Repairs to leaks in the roof have enabled the walls and ceiling of the café to be redecorated and new kitchen equipment has been installed ready for the new season. Plans to refurbish the changing room area for use by local sporting groups and a new Golf Academy and to re-instate a putting green are being developed and applications are being made for grant funding by Sport England and other organisations. New junior, public coaching and corporate golf sessions are planned for 2016, all with the aim of raising the level of interest and activity in golf and restoring the golf course to a prime facility in Westminster Park. Golfstorehouse have also taken over management of the public toilets on behalf of the Council and regular daily opening and cleaning are much improved.
Continuing discussions are taking place with Cheshire West and Chester Council about park maintenance and catching up with a backlog of repairs. The overall quality of the park and its enjoyment by a wide cross-section of the local community remain very high and continuing attention to outstanding issues will help the park to retain its position as a premier sporting and recreation location. Meanwhile all the clubs that meet in the park are continuing to thrive and are offering a wide range of activities for all ages and abilities. There is something for everyone – make the most of it during the coming spring and summer!
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Westminster Park will be held on Wednesday 25th November 2015 at Westminster Park Community Centre, commencing at 8.00pm
A G E N D A
1. Welcome by Chairman – David Guyton
2. Roll call of Members present.
3. Minutes of meeting dated 26th November 2014
4. Report by Chairman – David Guyton
5. Treasurer’s report – Jenny Szczyglowska
6. Election of officers – Chairman
7. Present and on-going activities – General discussion
8. Any other business
We are delighted to welcome Golfstorehouse as the new operator of the golf course and café in Westminster Park. The owners live locally and two of them grew up learning to play golf in Westminster Park and now play off handicaps of two and scratch. They are strongly committed to reviving the golf course as a family-friendly community golf course with a strong emphasis on providing coaching and playing opportunities for junior golfers from the locality and from local schools and colleges. They also plan to reinstate the putting green. They are keen to develop the café and to make it a more attractive venue with a wider offering of food and beverages for all users of the park. After several years of drift and neglect, these improvements are bound to take some time to implement in full but the new owners have been working hard since they took over responsibility for the facilities at the beginning of April. Your support will be much appreciated.
Despite much needed refurbishment last year, the public toilets have continued to be a source of frustration and disapointment with regard to cleanliness and irregular opening hours. Although they are located in the same central building, the toilets remain the responsibility of the Council rather than the operator of the café and golf course. Following a mounting series of complaints and intervention by our local councillors, we have recently received assurance from the Council that new and improved arrangements are being put in place for further refurbishment, more frequent cleaning and more regular opening hours. We shall continue to watch the situation closely as clean and reliable toilet facilities are essential for a public recreation area that is as popular and well used as Westminster Park.