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2012

Expanding Activities

Over the last few years, the trustees of the Bourne United Charities have looked at possible opportunities to expand the facilities it provides to our small market town as the population expands.

Memorial and Wellhead Gardens

The replacement of the Bourne Eau river side wooden boards, on the edge of the Memorial Gardens, will soon be complete, and the backfilling with flower bulbs should enhance the beauty and restful dignity of this area, in the years to come.

The newly bridged area near St Peter’s pool, will lead on to the soon to be opened Jubilee Meadow to the south of the Wellhead Gardens. This four acre field has been returned to the trustees from a local farmer, and has already been seeded with wildflowers and planted with trees to hopefully provide a peaceful walking area. The Bourne Town Council has kindly donated an Oak tree that will be planted here on May 16th.

This will also join with the path from the back of the Elsea Park estate, and provide an extra link for those residents to the town centre, and hopefully help the cohesiveness of our ever expanding town. Dog walkers have always been welcome in this area; however the loss of another swan bears testimony to the importance of keeping pets on their leads.

Abbey Lawns

Most of the outdoor sporting clubs and leisure activities of Bourne are situated on the Abbey Lawns to the east of the town. As the Bourne United Charities also own this area, the clubs benefit from significantly lower rents than similar clubs in neighbouring towns, and as they are predominately maintained by the excellent BUC ground staff, all the residents of Bourne benefit from lower council tax bills, as the local or district councils do not need to fund them.

The formal sport clubs are enhanced by the more informal sporting and leisure activities areas [such as the swimming pool] on the lawns. However, for more than a decade there has been gap in the provision for a group of teenagers and young adults, who have desired a skate or BMX bike park somewhere in the town. These, seemingly increasing, groups of Bourne citizens are visible in the bus station and car parks of Bourne, at all times of the year [unlike most sports].These do not seem to be very safe areas to gather, and despite being unsupervised they seem to be very respectful of these areas.

In September 2011 the trustees informed, in confidence, the Abbey Lawn Sports Association [ALSA] committee of our thoughts to provide an area to the east of the Abbey Lawns for a skate/BMX park. It has been hoped this would complement the other formal and informal outdoor sporting and leisure pursuits already available there. In parallel to this we held discussions with the previous Bourne Skate park committee to see if there still was a desire to have such park, and whether there was a new group of individuals that would keen to explore the possibility of this site. After the first new Dimension Park committee meeting, at the Bourne Police station in February 2012, the trustees felt confident there was group committed to the project.

The new committee has two large obstacles to hurdle. The first is to gain planning permission. The full rigors of this process will allow anyone against the plan the right to oppose the building of the park in this area. The other hurdle is obtaining the funding to build the park, which will take some months to achieve, especially as they have chosen to build with quieter, but more expensive materials.

We feel that we have been very responsive to the requests from the different clubs on the Abbey Lawns to provide more security for their facilities. Although unpopular with some in the wider community, the clubs were keen to have a security fence around the Abbey Lawns and we hope that this attractive barrier was installed sensitively enough for its initial detractors. Concerns about people playing with footballs and damaging the football pitch and cricket outfield were, in the main, successfully dealt with by the placing of goalposts at the back of the lawns for people to play there instead.
The trustees also genuinely feel that providing the skate park in this same area will also provide a focus to attract people away from the sitting in the football stands when matches are not being played [which is desired by the football club]. We feel that if this project does proceed, it will be a sign of the BUC’s commitment to increasing the sporting and leisure pursuits for our growing town, and especially to a group that is not already catered for.

 

2011

Last winter was one of the harshest for many years and wildlife in and around the Well Head Park struggled to survive despite a generous helping hand from the Public. The resident Kingfishers in particular had a hard time of it with just a very few holes in the ice on the river in which to fish. Indeed, one of the pair did succumb although not directly to the weather. Sadly, it was taken by a female Sparrow Hawk in early December.

Winter scene

Another predator in the shape of a Grey Heron spent much of the winter skulking around the park’s waterways and was probably responsible for the loss of Goldfish in the Memorial Gardens ponds and some of the small Rudd along the river stretches, however there was evidence to suggest that an otter had also visited the Baldocks Passage stretch of water at some point when a carp of 5 lbs or more was found half eaten on the side of the bank. Otters have been seen further downstream in the Eastgate area and they are known to travel considerable distances in search of food so it is perfectly feasible that one has found its way into the park.

The usual winter visitors of Redwing and Fieldfare arrived in late November and around the same time a couple of more exotic species arrived. Groups of Waxwings were regularly in and out of the park for over three months and a Little Egret spent three or four days patrolling the Cress Beds in early January and both Snipe and Redshank were spotted in the field ditch next to Baldocks Passage when the weather was at it’s coldest.

Waxwings

The underground aquifier ensured that St Peter’s Pool stayed relatively ice free throughout the winter and this became a magnet for Black Headed and Common Gulls as well as the ocassional Little Gull. There were also unconfirmed reports of a Mediterranean Gull on the water in February! During one particualr cold snap a lone Lapwing turned up and spent a few days hoovering up tiny crumbs of bread that had been dropped around the bench overlooking the pool. In normal circumstances you would be hard pushed to get within fifty yards of these handsome plovers so to have one feeding within a few feet of you is most unusual.

Redwing

Spring finally arrived and fears that the population of small birds may have been decimated by the cold weather appeared to be unfounded as many began their courtships and nest building before the snow and ice had melted. Morohens and Rooks were building in late February closely followed by the Mallards, Blackbirds and Thrushes and many of these had young in the nest before the first of the migrant birds began to arrive. These, the Swallows, House Martins and Warblers were quite late this year probably due to the prolonged north easterly winds that held station well into April.

Chiff Chaffs were singing high up in the trees in mid April, a practice that will continue throughout the summer and well into October, next came the Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Whitethroats as well as the odd Garden Warbler. The first two of these will turn up just about anywhere in the park area from May through to September although the latter seems to prefer damper, boggier areas. Though not resident on the Well Head itself, the Whitethroats can be seen and heard in and around the hedgerow at the back of the meadow behind St Peter’s Pool. There are plans in the pipeline to improve this meadow with the addition of more wildflower areas over the next eighteen months but even so it is already an excellent place to watch Swallows and House Martins foraging in the air for insects and above them from May through to August you can usually see the jet black swifts going about their business.

Of course the presence these three species will attract the attention of the Hobbys that feed on them and this year is no exception as there have been several sightings of this super fast falcon over the Cress Beds and meadow throughout May and June. Towards the end of the summer they will turn their attention to dragonflies that they can catch and eat whilst still in flight and a good time to see this is usually in the late afternoon or early evening from July onwards.

Already this spring there have been plenty of positives for the bird population in the park and successful breeders include Bullfinch, Goldcrest, Tree Creeper and possibly Great Spotted Woodpecker as well as a whole host of other birds both the large and small.
Over sixty five species of birds have been recorded in the Well Head Park in the last two years and the list grows seemingly month on month but none of this would be possible without the careful management by staff at all levels and their work has recently been recognised with an award for environmental management. In April this year Bourne United Charities Environmental Management System achieved Certification to the recognised Standard ISO.14001:2004.

The implementation process began in June 2010 and much hard work by administration and grounds persons has gone into creating and maintaining a system that ensures the Charity is able to meet with its obligations in relation to a whole raft of environmental regulations that affect both charities and commercial organisations alike. In additio to legal compliance the EMS demands a commitment to continually improving environmental performance by controlling and managing operational activities and open park spaces ensuring that risks to employees, the general public and the environment as a whole are identified and actions taken to minimise or eliminate their effects. This includes pollution prevention, reducing energy use, promoting bio diversity especially in the public parks and gardens and reducing, recovering, recycling or reusing waste materials wherever practicable.

With the trees now in full leaf it really is a fantastic place to enjoy – why not go and have a look, after all it is free!

Kevin Day


2010

Bourne United Charities have recently employed the services of Greenhawk Environmental Consultancy and will be seeking to become an environmentally sustainable organisation by implementing and installing a fully maintained Environmental Management System.

Over the coming months new initiatives will be introduced to improve performance through the setting of a number of environmental targets and objectives. An initial investigation into what the organisation’s potential environmental impacts might be is already underway and this study is currently looking at energy and waste management plus the potential effects, both positive and negative, on the landscape, plants and wildlife as well as nuisance issues such as littering to name but a few.

Much of the focus for the project will be upon the Well Head, Memorial Gardens and The Abbey Lawns where it is envisaged that any proposed improvements will make your visits to these public open spaces a more pleasurable experience both now and into the future.

The process of change will take a few months but will culminate in an Environmental Audit to be carried out by The British Standards Institute (BSI) early next year. It is hoped that this audit will result in Bourne United Charities achieving Certification to ISO.14001:2004 which is an internationally recognised standard of excellence in environmental management. Once this has been achieved, BSI will visit every six months to ensure that the Environmental Management System is being maintained and that the organisation remains committed to continual environmental improvement at all levels.

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Kevin Day
BUC