Hedgemead Park needs ‘friends.’

Hedgemead Park needs ‘friends.’

Things are looking up for Bath’s Hedgemead Park with a number of improvements now  completed by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Parks Team.

The bandstand has been repaired and repainted, with work now finished.

Hedgemead Bandstand 1

The newly painted bandstand in Hedgemead Park.

The old shelter is in the process of being fixed with new shingle on the roof, the retaining wall being repaired and new railings around the shelter to provide better visibility.

Work to resurface the play area has also been completed by the Council, in partnership with Wessex Water.

Jane Robson, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Parks Manager, said: “We have been working hard to carry out a number of improvements to Hedgemead Park as we know local people and users place great value on this excellent community facility.”

The Council’s Parks Team is also attempting to establish a Friends of Hedgemead Park group. A meeting is taking place on Wednesday 10 May at The Crypt, St Swithin’s Church, Paragon, Bath, from 7pm, with anyone interested in the future of the park is welcome to come along.
Jane added: “We hope that establishing friends groups at many of our parks across Bath and North East Somerset will encourage greater use and involvement in shaping their future.”


Park plot to stay

Park plot to stay

Looks like B&NES have had a change of heart over their original intention to move a vegetable plot feature on the slopes of a Bath public park.

The aptly-called Vegmead Community Group packed out the public gallery at this week’s Council meeting to hear  Honorary Alderman David Dixon question the wisdom of removing a community group from the city’s  Hedgemead Park.


The Vegmead Plot campaigners joined others -protesting against the East of Bath Park and Ride – outside the Guildhall this week. © Joseph Lavington

Quoting the 3000 volunteer hours invested in the site since its inception in 2011, David asked why, in light of a difficult funding climate, this level of community investment would be removed.

Citing the claims made by the Parks Department, that the site didn’t look attractive he stated it was unfair of the Department to have visited the site in February when most green spaces aren’t looking their best.

When asked by a Councillor if he could confirm that Vegmead was staying in Hedgemead Park Tim Warren, Council Leader replied ‘yes’.


The pop up produce stall outside the Bath Guildhall. © Joseph Lavington

Before the meeting began the group set up a pop up produce stall outside the Guildhall and gave away vegetables and fruit to passing members of the public. They were also joined by supporters and spoke to numerous passersby about the Save Vegmead campaign.


The vegetable plot in Hedgemead Park

Vegmead Community Group had received information in the days prior to the meeting that the Council were having a re-think about removing Vegmead, but no direct word from the Council had been received.

In light of this they attended the meeting in person to hear the news first hand. They are awaiting a meeting date from the Council to discuss their plans for Vegmead’s future.


Smiles all round from the Vegmead Community Group – Beth, Tim, Jo, Alastair, Adam, Jon, Tom, Emma, Jodie, Oli, Nat, Helena & Sara © Joseph Lavington

The Council have added a caveat stating that Vegmead can stay if the site is deemed a ‘success’. It’s not yet clear how the Council are defining success at Vegmead but the last seven  weeks of campaigning have proved what a success it already is.

The huge amount of support given to the group since the launch of the campaign 7 weeks ago has been phenomenal. Local newspapers, radio and television have helped raise the campaigns profile.

Seventy seven local people have provided written testimonials of support and community organisations, local businesses, gardening groups and charities have spoken out against the Council’s original decision to move it.

No room for greens in Hedgemead Park.

No room for greens in Hedgemead Park.

The controversial vegetable patch in Bath’s Hedgemead Park – known locally as Vegmead – is going to have to go.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is drawing up plans for a two-year programme of improvement works to this public space and they don’t think a flower bed – now full of fruit and veg -is poorly suited to a heritage landscape’.


The vegetable patch in Hedgemead Park

The Council’s Parks Department is currently developing a long-term management plan for the park and as part of this is considering whether the vegetable patch should be moved to a more suitable location.

Kensington Meadows has been suggested as ‘an ideal alternative’.

Hedgemead Park is one of only five Grade I and II listed public parks in the district, recognised  by Historic England for its nationally important formal landscaped gardens with paths, garden ornaments and a bandstand.


However, having carried out a review of the park, the Council is concerned that the current site is unsuitable for a number of reasons:

It is on a steep slope and has limited access to water, compost facilities, storage and other amenities

It is relatively difficult to access and is largely inaccessible to those with limited mobility.

It is poorly-suited to a heritage landscape.

The location and layout of the space limits opportunities for the plot to develop further.

Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North) Cabinet Member for Community Services said: “Working around the growing season, we will discuss with users and interested parties a proposal to move the fruit and vegetable plot, possibly towards the end of 2017.

We appreciate that this has been a convenient location for those involved but by working together we can hopefully find somewhere more suitable for the plot. Nearby Kensington Meadows is an ideal alternative with large areas of flat, accessible open space, alongside an existing fledgling community orchard.”


The Vegmead plot!

The Vegmead plot!

The people who maintain the Vegmead Community Garden in Hedgemead Park have announced they’ve got to find a new home for the organic food they have been growing.


The Vegmead Community Garden plot!

In an article on Facebook they say: ‘Sad to announce that Bath Parks have decided, with no consultation, to take back Vegmead as they feel it’s not a suitable location.

We thoroughly disagree with this assessment and feel that public facing organic food growing in parks is a 21st-century challenge to an unsustainable industrialised food system that is bad for the planet and bad for our health.

We’ve been offered the opportunity to move to other sites and will look over these options but these seem to be less visible and away from Hedgemead Park where we are building community interest.’

The group say they are considering their options. You can look up their Twitter account via @vegmead.

I’ll ask the Council for comment.

Hedgemead Park “neglected”

Hedgemead Park “neglected”

Parks are under pressure as local authorities everywhere look for means of saving money as central government cuts the amount of money its prepared to contribute to their annual budgets.

Gazebo in need of repair.

Gazebo in need of repair. Click on images to enlarge.

The fountain doesn't work. An air of neglect?

The fountain doesn’t work. An air of neglect?

Maybe its time to consider some form of ‘adopt a park’ within local communities.

In the meantime,  there seems to be some concern about how things are looking at the city’s Hedgemead Park.

While there is a new children’s play area and the grass is cut – l am told – it still seems to have a feeling of neglect with many trees needing attention and a fountain and gazebo in great need of repair.

This is how the park is described on the official website of Bath and North East Somerset Council:

“This attractive 2 hectare (5 acre) park owes its existence to a great misfortune which occurred when the houses that originally covered the site were destroyed by a landslide in the 1870’s. The land lay derelict for many years and the corporation eventually purchased this desolate area of the city and transformed it into today’s pleasant park with its beautiful views.

The layout of the paths and terrain on this park was engineered to prevent the possibility of future landslides, it was formally opened in 1889.

The park contains many beautiful trees and shrubs, some fine rose displays and a small children’s play area.

Steep gradients and steps in this park make it unsuitable for wheelchair users.”  http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/sport-leisure-and-parks/parks-opening-times-and-locations/hedgemead-park

A little extra bit of information – as August draws to a close – archaeologists are planning a ‘geophysics survey’ in the park during October.

I hear Hedgemead is to the south west of recent excavation work along Bathwick Street which yielded evidence for a Roman road and a range of buildings.

This project is to investigate if geophysics techniques – a sort of ground radar – can provide any evidence for this road or any other developments being extended into the park area.