On 11 October 2022, HyPER Spokesman, Chris Gunness, attended the Royal Parks meeting for key stakeholders held in the new “Lookout” facility in Hyde Park.
Royal Parks CEO, Andrew Scattergood, gave a strategic overview of all the Royal Parks, the high point of which had been the multiple events around the death of Queen Elizabeth, which he said “had brought out the best in all of us”.
Key fact and figures that might be of interest to HyPER members include:
- Despite the energy and cost of living crisis and the extreme weather event over the summer, the Royal Parks are well in line with their key strategic objectives:
- Providing a welcome to all visitors
- Sustainably enhancing the parks for future generations
- Building a secure financial future
- A significantly updated parks website is under construction as part of a newly-developed communications and outreach strategy.
- Because of the expansion of various projects, such as boating and swimming, the number of staff at the Royal Parks would increase from about 250 to between 500 and 600.
The Parks are rolling out a new “horticultural volunteers’ scheme” which will go live next year. The Parks will notify stakeholders such as HyPER whose members might be interested.
The Parks have set up a “Park’s Panel” in order to conduct long-term surveys of those who use the parks on a prolonged basis. This is a quick and easy way to support the work of the Royal Parks. HyPER members interested in taking part can find out more about the Parks Panel here.
Royal Parks conservation architects are finalising the brief for the restoration of the Kensington Gardens bandstand. Alongside general redecoration they will be improving access through redesigning the stairs, improving safety through remodelled railings and replacing the paving materials that surround the bandstand. A series of events are planned in which HyPER members could become involved. Details will be made available, but please let Chris Gunness know if you are interested.
There were then presentations by Andrew Williams, Park Manager of Kensington Gardens and Brompton Cemetery, Jason Taylor, Park Manager of Hyde Park and Alun Mainwaring, Head of Events and Filming. High points of interest include:
- 550,000 tickets were sold for the concerts in Hyde Park last year and already this year, tickets are selling well for two Bruce Springsteen gigs, as well as appearances by Pink and Billy Joel.
- Tickets for Winter Wonderland are down after last year’s huge success. This is attributed to the fact that after lockdown last year, people were keen to go to outdoor events.
- The unseasonal hot weather this summer is expected to have taken a toll particularly on the trees and this is being carefully monitored. One worrying sign is the fact that certain trees have produced spring flowers already. The park keepers are hoping for a wet autumn and winter which might redress some of the damage.
Finally, there was an update from the Metropolitan Police by Chief Inspector Simon Crew, PC Vinny Kinsler and PC Simon Hackworth. The salient points included:
- There were no major increases in crime in Hyde Park which remained at a relatively low level compared with national crime statistics
- There were 70 more warnings to illegal cyclists this year
- The Met saw the continuation of an old trick: someone pretending to be lost approaches a sunbather with a map, placing it on the ground over the sunbather’s mobile phone while they discuss directions and then walks off with the map AND the phone
- By increasing to six the number of “ticketing windows” for Winter Wonderland, the Met hopes to keep crime rates at the event low. This new system makes the process of entry more orderly.
Chris conveyed to all Royal Parks officials present HyPER’s thanks for the work they do, particularly the “magnificent job” following the death of the Queen. In response, the Parks promised to keep HyPER in touch with all their initiatives and opportunities for our members. Chris said the Royal Parks and HyPER shared a common agenda for a green and progressive future and looked forward to a year of further cooperation.