Sept 2018



Thursday 6th September, 2018

Whitegates, Shire Lane, Chorleywood

Present: Barbara Green – Chair, Robin Hurley, Andrew York, Pam Ferrar, Dorothy Freedman, Nick Makin, Barbara Robjant, Malcolm Green, Tony Edwards, Angela Killick (District Councillor), Terence Flynn (TRDC).

1. Apologies for Absence

Chris Smith, Lesley Edwards, Sue Hall, Steve Hall, Stephen Ramsey, Bob Wilson, Julie Hughes, Nick Hood.

2. Minutes of last meeting and matters arising

The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

3. Treasurer’s report

We have a balance of £163.22 in the bank. Quiz Night boosted our income by £400 in November 2017, whilst purchase of tools across the year totalled £256.32.

Stephen Ramsey, Treasurer, changed our bank in April from NatWest to Barclays thereby saving us approx. £60 per annum in charges. We have a table booked for this November’s Quiz Night so it is hoped we can get enough of us to attend.

4. Draft 5 Year Plan – Update

Terence Flynn from TRDC attended the meeting and was able to clarify the position regarding our 5 Year Plan. The Plan is still in draft form as further changes still need to be made before it can go to committee. It is hoped these can be expediated to enable the Plan to go forward to the November Leisure Committee, otherwise, it will be March before it can be ratified. It also became clear during the meeting that FOCW did not have the latest Draft Plan, so TF agreed to email this after the meeting (done).

BG agreed to impress on Ray Fig at their meeting with AK and Julie Hughes, scheduled for 11th September, the importance of requiring CMS to ‘finesse’ the Draft 5 Year Plan as detailed by TF to ensure the Plan can be ratified by the Leisure Committee in November rather than having to wait until March 2019. Action BG

BG outlined some of our concerns regarding Actions in the Draft Plan. These were as follows;

I. CCF Implementation – removal of mature Beech to allow regeneration to take place.  BG queried whether finance would realistically be available for this sort of major work.  TF stated that this would stay in the Plan but with a caveat that no felling would take place unless and until a market was found for the wood as a way to recoup some of the costs.

II. PAWS restoration – continued thinning and removal of Larch from the woodland.  TF stated that Larch removal would continue but rather than ‘thinning’, the approach would be ‘block removal’.  So the wording in the Plan will need to be changed to reflect this.

III. Pollard Hornbeam stubs and de-shade – Although this work has been outstanding since the Friends Group began 9 years ago, it seems there is still no budget in place for the work!  Specialist tree surgery is needed which will probably remove small sections of branches at a time as well as removal of surrounding vegetation to give maximum chance of regeneration of the Hornbeam. At present this is still in the 5 Year Plan, but BG and AK will press the importance of these ancient Hornbeam when they meet with Ray Fig, and endeavour to secure sufficient finance to begin this essential work as soon as possible. Action BG and AK

IV. Ride Creation – this action is still in the Plan but some changes will be made to the strategy to be adopted.  TF explained that a less radical approach to tree removal along the rides will be adopted compared with the original Draft proposals put forward by CMS. Much of this work can be carried out by FOCW but larger tree removal will require TRDC involvement.

V. First Thinning of young plantation areas – This item in the Plan refers to the Birch/Beech Plantation to the north of Bramble Ramble.  On the Plan this is earmarked for FOCW/CMS, but BG pointed out that much of the Birch is now too big for FOCW to tackle.  This will therefore require a TRDC budget to carry out this work – with FOCW in a supporting role only.

VI. Creation of a Plant Nursery in Hillas Larch plantation – This action is now in the revised Draft Plan. TF advised that a new tractor has been purchased by TRDC which, when personnel were appropriately trained (expected by end October), the tree stumps would be removed as the first job and a Brush Hog machine would be used to cut through roots and bramble. Fencing would then need to be erected, possibly with FOCW/CMS volunteer support. This work is planned for this coming Autumn!

BG also mentioned the lack of CMS support for FOCW currently. We appear to have no regular ‘point of contact’ with CMS since Matthew left at the end of last year. This obviously makes it difficult for the Friends group to have a clear forward plan for their work, particularly since our 5 Year Plan has been delayed. MG stated that we need a clear commitment of regular support from CMS/TRDC. BG and AK agreed this was something that should be raised with Ray Fig on 11th September. Action BG and AK

5. Report on Progress of Volunteers Group

a) Tasks covered during last 6 months

  • New Ride creation across Hillas Larch plantation.
  • Varnishing of Noticeboards and sign cleaning.
  • Bracken trampling in Beech Glade – TF mentioned that we should be wearing breathing masks for this work.  These need ordering.  Action: BG
  • Trimming of new hedge along Farm Track
  • Reduction of holly growth along Field View boundary with horse field.
  • General clearing of paths and bridleways.
  • Nettle removal at Whitelands entrance.
  • Removal of ‘ancient’ pile of rubbish behind houses along Carpenters Path (thanks to AK for her help with this!)
  • Work on the brambles in Hillas using Friends of Chorleywood House Estate’s power scythe was planned but didn’t materialize.

b) Tasks to be covered in next 6 months

Until the 5 Year Plan has been agreed it is difficult to plan a work programme but the following were mentioned:-

  • Whitelands entrance needs attention – some tidying but heavier work may need TRDC involvement.
  • Laurel removal along Quarry Path and Bluebell Walk area..
  • TF suggested trimming of lower branches on some of the Beech to encourage straight growth – using silky saws.  Advice on site will be needed to ensure correct cutting. Action TF
  • Planting of Oak saplings was mentioned – TF suggested planting these in the area of the Ash plantation.  There is already signs of Ash dieback in this plantation so the oak saplings would be good replacements.  However, the Ash affected will need to be felled and burnt so planting should not take place too close to the Ash.
  • Thinning of Beech saplings, selecting the strongest specimen and clearing others within a 1-2ft radius.  The area around the Quarry is particularly in need of attention.
  • Removal of stem guards along the Farm hedge.  TF felt this was now appropriate.
  • FOCW to look at what Birch removal can be tackled in the Birch/Beech plantation north of Bramble Ramble.
  • Nursery work as needed.
  • Maintenance and repair work on Bird Boxes. Action MG and SH

c) Membership update

Membership remains buoyant.  Two new members receiving regular updates but have yet to attend volunteer sessions.

d) Tools Review

  • New loppers and shears were purchased in the Spring together with new blades for the pole saw and the bow saws.
  • SH repaired the broken tooth in the wooden rake
  • TF supplied a new metal rake
  • Bramble is a major problem across the woodland. TF suggested that we should have use of a Power Scythe in order to tackle this problem. The FOCW all feel that keeping the bramble at bay, not least in Hillas Plantation, is one of the major headaches in the woodland. TF suggested that a Power Scythe could be stored by TRDC and delivered by trailer to the woodland when needed. AK and BG agreed to raise this with Ray Fig at their meeting on 11th September. Action BG and AK
  • Another Silky Saw may be needed for work on Beech (branch removal). Action TF

6. Web-site update

BG thanked Steve Hall in his absence for his work on the website. However, it has been difficult to keep it up to date. DF offered to consider taking this on. Action BG,DF and SH to discuss.

7. Diary for the coming Year – BG to forward shortly.

8. Any other business

Chestnut Leaf Minor Moth was discussed, as these are attacking Horse Chestnuts in the woodland causing leaf browning. The Oak Processionary Moth was also mentioned but there appears to be no sign of this in the area at present.

Approved for a further year – BG as Chairman, SR as Treasurer (in absentia), SH as Secretary (in absentia).

9. Date of next meeting – 7th March, 2019

NB: Fly tipping letters requested at the March meeting and promised in July by Julie Hughes TRDC have still not been issued. This needs chasing (again!)  Action BG

Minutes by BG