Friends of the Valley and Little Dene Annual Report
2016 Committee Annual Report
Compared to 2015, which we celebrated as the centenary of the first use of the Valley by residents of High West Jesmond, we decided that 2016 should be a quieter year.
Council rejects our application for Village Green status
Our only event in the summer attracted more rain clouds than customers and in October we received an official letter from Newcastle City Council (who itself was the only objector against our application) informing us that following review by Newcastle City Council our application for Village Green status had been rejected – 2 years and 4 months after it was submitted!
Despite all the hard work of the High West Jesmond community we decided not to appeal.
Despite this, the Valley bloomed as usual.
Loads of snowdrops (2017 versions out now!), followed by all the daffodils in the spring and the wildflowers later in the summer.
The “field maples” continue to grow and extend the colour show every autumn; no obvious signs of “ash die-back” have been spotted; fruit trees, and a couple of “lime tree whips”, have been introduced along the northern edge (thanks to Frank S and Jon R).
In the Little Dene, the holly & hawthorn understory is growing very slowly but the fallen ash trees help to provide a protective environment for insects and small mammals.
In the summer months the Dene is almost impenetrable for us humans!
Our 4th bird survey was carried out on 9 May 2016 – and proved to be the most productive.
A total of 22 separate species were recorded, including goldfinch, goldcrest, dunnock, blackcap, chiffchaff, coal tit, great tit and blue tit to name but a few!
The report suggested ways to further improve the Little Dene and the Valley surrounds for the bird population. Minimising disturbance is always beneficial.
Several bird boxes have been placed on trees on the edge of the Little Dene and there are 1/2 bird feeders close to the Valley (thanks to Paul W for making them and Frank S for placing them!).
Apart from finding a dead male fox inside a hollow tree trunk early in 2016, we had no reports of foxes having been seen on the Valley or in the Dene.
However, grey squirrels remain present, no doubt attracted by the abundance of hazel nuts! The other sad note to report was the finding of a deceased hedgehog in the middle of the Valley. Let’s hope that some are still surviving in the Valley surrounds and gardens.
Works on the Valley
The “hollow” in the centre of the Valley showed signs of further deepening last summer. After fencing it off for a couple of months, the Council deemed it safe and filled it with topsoil – so, it’s a “hollow” no more!
Maintenance work on the culvert underneath the Valley also meant that a chunk of the Valley next to Newlands Road was used as a site compound for several weeks in October. The work was successfully completed.
Use of the Valley
The only event that was promoted, the Hog Roast, was sadly a wash-out. However, those that did attend received good value for money –“ plenty of pork in the butty”!
A big thank you to the usual band of helpers, plus the individuals and organisations that supplied equipment.
The Valley appears to be attracting more dog walkers – either because more people have dogs or because it’s just a popular venue for dog walking or perhaps both! In terms of community connections that’s probably a good thing, but, on the other hand, dogs and wildlife are not the best partners.
The Valley remains reasonably well used by students, young people and children during the warmer months. It would probably be helpful to quantify usage by carrying out a usage survey in 2017.
The Valley remains a much used and valued community open green space that we all agree must remain available for use of the community.
Committee of Friends of the Valley and Little Dene