Friends of Regent’s Canal - Minutes of Meeting


Date and Time:

Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 7pm to 9pm

Location:

London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, London N1 9RT

Chair:

Ian Shacklock

1. Present

Ian Shacklock
Chair and Islington Boat Club.
Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
Anne Robertson Reachview resident
Nicola Hyde Art Lights London
Ben Myring
Sonja Curtis
Robert Addington Resident, Noel Road
Jenny Christensson Art Lights London
Kate Mitchell London Borough of Hackney
Leanne Brisland London Borough of Islington
Richard Harris London Borough of Camden
Lisa Tang Thornhill Bridge Community Gardeners
Beryl Windsor Angel Canal Festival and St Pancras Cruising Club
Bhupesh Thapa Greenspace, London Borough of Islington
Chris Ashby Islington Cyclists Action Group
Fiona MacLean London Narrow Boat Association
Jenny Jones London Assembly Member
Peter Moore Resident
Jo Moore Resident
Leo Chapman Regents Network
Lewis Towns
Michele Towns
Councillor Martin Klute London Borough of Islington
Gillian Comins Angel Association
Del Brenner Regents Network
Gordon Meen Resident, Reachview
Katie Dawson Green Party
Rob Inglis Arts Exchange

2. Apologies

Caroline Pidgeon AM
Marisha Ray
Caroline Russell
Emma Dixon
Anna Strongman
Councillor Paul Convery
Beverley Dean
Councillor Greg Foxsmith

3. Organisational Changes

3.1 Ian Shacklock (chair) reminded the meeting that Sandra Hoisz is no longer available to provide secretarial support and mentioned that he has started discussions with the Camden Volunteer Centre to find a candidate to take minutes at future meetings. Gillian Comins kindly offered to take notes on this occasion.

3.2 Ian announced that he had created a website (http://friendsofregentscanal.org) in order to disseminate information to the public and a new email account (friendsregentscanal@gmail.com) in order to collect queries and feedback from the public.

3.3 Ian stressed that people without Internet access should not feel excluded and offered to provide hardcopy information to people in this category should the need arise.

ACTION 1. Ian Shacklock to register Friends of Regent's Canal with the Camden Volunteer Centre.

4. Minutes of Last Meeting and Matters Arising

4.1 At the meeting on 29th September 2010, Richard Rutter (British Waterways) had confirmed that two replacement trees would be planted near the Danbury Street ramp. Del Brenner had asked whether they would be mature or semi-mature and Jon Guest (British Waterways) had agreed to check. At the meeting on 1st December 2010, Sandra Hoisz agreed to contact Jon Guest for an update on this. Richard Rutter replied on 24th February 2011, suggesting that the Friends of Regent's Canal could donate some native species of trees.

4.2 On 1st December 2010, Rob Inglis agreed to invite the Arts Officers to a future meeting. Rob had discussed this with Ian Shacklock and agreed to defer this invitation until the June meeting, in view of the busy agenda for 2nd March.

4.3 On 1st December 2010, Anna Strongman (Argent) agreed to forward the King's Cross Canal Masterplan to the Friends of Regent's Canal. Anna replied on 1st March, stating that the Masterplan had been published and that she was going to ask her marketing colleague to put it on the website. She has also supplied a link to Latham's website (http://www.lathamarchitects.co.uk/kingscross/kingscross-2.html)

4.4 Del Brenner asked for clarification of the anniversary of the canal, which was mentioned in Section 3.6 of the minutes. Ian Shacklock replied that 2012 is the anniversary of the formation of the Regent's Canal Company, not the anniversary of the opening of the canal. [But 1812 was a significant date because it marked the beginning of the construction phase].

4.5 On 1st December 2010, Anna Strongman agreed to put the King's Cross Central curator in touch with the Friends of Regent's Canal. On 1st March she supplied the e-mail address for the curator and she confirmed that the curator is happy to give a presentation at our next meeting.

4.6 On 1st December 2010, Sandra Hoisz agreed to contact British Waterways for an update on the Danbury Street ramp. Richard Rutter replied on 24th February 2011, stating that there were 3 outstanding issues.
4.7 On 1st December 2010, Ian Shacklock agreed to liaise with Rob Inglis about sending a letter of support for the Canal Musical project. Rob is still preparing this letter and he will seek co-signatures from several groups. The Friends of Regent's Canal had already offered unanimous support for this.

ACTION 2. Rob Inglis to invite Arts Officers to the next meeting.
ACTION 3. Ian Shacklock to invite King's Cross Central curator to the next meeting.
ACTION 4. Ian Shacklock to respond to British Waterways about the replacement trees.
ACTION 5. Rob Inglis to prepare a letter about the Canal Musical project.

5. Guest Speaker: Jenny Jones (London Assembly Member)

5.1 Jenny Jones talked about her enthusiasm for canals, both as a current user and as a former co-chair of the Waterways Commission. She expressed concern about pressure on green space, especially in East London, and the increasing risk of flooding (due to climate change, lack of maintenance on culverts and building over flood plains). She mentioned the East London Green Grid and opportunities for an All London Green Grid but warned that there was no funding for these good ideas.

5.2 Jenny described her "Deserted Highways" report of December 2004. This included 10 recommendations for London's canals, and she thanked Del Brenner for his contributions to it. She felt that canals had to be shown to be of practical use in order to be awarded funding, but proposals to use them for freight had not been implemented. She felt that the wide range of uses of the canals should be promoted rather than all the emphasis being put on recreational value.

5.3 Anne Robertson took up this point, attacking the behaviour of certain pedal cyclists on the towpath (for example in Baynes Street). She believed that any cyclist wanting to travel at speed should use the cycle paths on the roads instead of the towpath, and added that these individuals showed little consideration for pedestrians, who in turn felt vulnerable and at risk and ended up being driven off their towpath. Councillor Martin Klute said he had received many complaints on this subject from his constituents (in St Peter's ward) and was of the opinion that more effective cycle calming measures had to be introduced. Jenny Jones deplored the behaviour of selfish anti-social cyclists but emphasised that cycling must be encouraged as it was essential to reduce the strain on the public transport network.

5.4 Jenny offered to lobby officers at the GLA (or any other organisation) as necessary, on our behalf, in order to support canals. Beryl Windsor (organiser of the Angel Canal Festival) asked Jenny what had happened to the 23K that was ringfenced for the London Canals Committee and urged that this fund should be spent on canals not on consultants. Jenny agreed to write to the London Councils about this.


ACTION 6. Jenny Jones to send an electronic copy of the Deserted Highways report to the Friends of Regent's Canal
ACTION 7. Ian Shacklock to post the Deserted Highways report on the website.
ACTION 8. Jenny Jones to write to London Councils about the 23K canal fund.

6. Biodiversity Update

6.1 Richard Harris (Nature Conservation Manager, Camden) issued the good news that 14K of planning gain money is available for wildlife near Reachview Close. Some of this money will be spent on wildlife shrubs and floating gardens. Richard circulated some illustrations of the type of work being undertaken.

6.2 Richard described the nature of his work. It often involves commenting on planning applications and recommending tree species (e.g. oaks). It also involves selecting controlled lighting for bat protection.

6.3 Richard sometimes works in conjunction with Dr Mark Spencer, curator of the Natural History Museum Department of Botany, and a widlife survey (of bats along the canal) is scheduled for Thursday 8th August at 8pm at Camley Street.

6.4 Del Brenner asked whether the work covered wildlife in the water or whether it covered only the wildlife on land. Richard replied that aquatic surveys are performed as part of planning applications.

6.5 The Camden Biodiversity Action Plan is now available online and can be accessed via http://www.ukbap-reporting.org.uk/plans/lbap.asp.

6.6 Leanne Brisland (Biodiversity Officer, Islington) has written the Islington Biodiversity Action Plan. This aims at minimizing the impact of developments. She commented on the thriving colonies of bats and she has been working with the Bat Conservation Trust, identifying bat sites.

6.7 Regrettably, Leanne's current post is disappearing following the budget cuts and restructuring imposed on the council.

6.8 Kate Mitchell (Biodiversity Officer, Hackney) explained that she is in a newly created post and she outlined her current projects. She is working with various parties (including schools) in order to develop the Hackney Biodiversity Action Plan. The waterways feature in their list of priorities.

ACTION 9. Richard Harris to supply electronic copies of the available biodiversity information to the Friends of Regent's Canal
ACTION 10. Ian Shacklock to publish council biodiversity information on the website.

7. Any Other Business

7.1 Nicola Hyde (Art Lights London) gave a brief introduction to the GAMES project. This involves a collaboration of 600 children working on an animated light sculpture trail. These sculptures would be installed at selected sites along the canal, between Paddington Basin and the Olympic site. The plan includes two such projects in Islington and Camden, one at Camden Road Bridge and one at Diespecker Wharf. The latter would feature an illuminated diver and is being supported by Pollard Thomas Edwards, the architectural practice located at the wharf. Ian Shacklock agreed to circulate information on the GAMES project.

7.2 Ian Shacklock pointed out that the e-mail circulation list included residents from several boroughs but no councillors from Camden or Hackney were included. He offered to notify all the councillors for canalside wards in Camden and Hackney about future meetings.

7.3 The meeting concluded with an appreciation for Ian's work for the Friends of Regent's Canal, not only for creating the website but also for inviting interesting speakers and making relevant plans for the future.

ACTION 11. Ian Shacklock to circulate information on the GAMES project.
ACTION 12. Ian Shacklock to invite Camden and Hackney councillors to the next meeting.