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Thursday, 3 January 2013

Annual Report 2012

Sustrans Rangers Derby
Annual Report for 2012

Our Local NCN Routes
The past year has been a very difficult one for the Ranger Group, with two major problems, those being high levels of vandalism on the Breadsall Greenway and  weather related problems on the Mickleover Greenway.
On the Breadsall Greenway, we installed a new seat for public use and that has been completely wrecked by local vandals. We removed the wreckage and have repaired it but will not install it, or any other seats on this route. A great pity as the views from them are potentially very scenic. The bird feeding table has also been wrecked but repairs have been done by Phil Harries, and it‘s support (being a length of telegraph pole) has proved immovable.
The brickwork at Breadsall Station has been wrecked by vandals and we still await repairs to this by Derbyshire County Council. The damage was done very early in the year and the site remains derelict as do the notice boards which were installed when the route was opened and immediately vandalised. They have not been repaired and have never had any notices in them, adding to the air of dereliction, and they are a target for air gun pellets.
There is also a major problem with dog fouling on this route, in spite of our efforts with signing.
Inevitably, the vandalism has had a demoralising effect on the Rangers and it seems unlikely that this route will ever reach it‘s potential, although we had high hopes for it initially, as it has some great scenery. 
There is some good news however, with the prospect of construction work commencing on phase 2 of the route in the Spring of 2013.

The big problem affecting the Mickleover Greenway has been the appalling weather during much of 2013, and serious flooding in July with adjacent houses, including Mickleover Station suffering damage by the surface water. The path itself also suffered serious damage, the top surface being washed away to expose the coarse limestone ballast beneath. In the week before Christmas the path was repaired by DCC and within 24 hours was under water yet again, with some relatively minor damage. A further worry here is the prospect of 340 houses being built on higher land to the NW of the Greenway at Hackwood Farm. This development would dump increased amounts of surface water onto the Greenway. The various official bodies are in discussions regarding a long term solution to the flooding problems, which have surely put the kibosh on any prospect of Burnaston House ever being built on the proposed site adjacent to the path, where it would (if built) have been under several metres of flood water in recent weeks.

Better news with Route 549, the Dove Valley Route which joins Route 54 at Egginton and runs through to the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border at the Dove Bridge near the Uttoxeter.  Most of this route is on minor roads running parallel to the A50 trunk road, but with a length of off-road section between Marston-on-Dove and Hatton. Here a new path has been under construction, resulting from a large extension to the Nestle Coffee factory,  necessitating a new path around it.  Our Ranger in Hatton, Yvonne Yates, has done an excellent job in liaising with the various bodies involved in this project and only today she tells us that the path is open.
There is little to report on our other routes which are mainly looked after by the various councils and Sustrans staff.

As in previous years we have been very fortunate in being able to employ Community Payback Teams supplied by the Probation Service, and it not been necessary for thr Rangers to do a lot of work on our routes. The Payback Teams have come along in groups of 10 or so on most Saturdays during the Winter and Autumn periods. We have not employed them during the Summer due to bird nesting and glow worm activity. Most of their work has been on Route 54 cutting back hedges and undergrowth.
Ranger workdays, of which we have had  about a dozen, have therefore concentrated on the following activities.
Strimming of grass verges.
Bonfires to dispose of debris, in particular ash tree cuttings as required by Derbyshire CC.
Installation of seats. Two of these have been constructed from old railway sleepers recovered from the undergrowth.
Installation and inspection of bird nest boxes.
Keeping bird feeders supplied with food during the Winter months.
Installation and emptying of litter bins
And of course the routine removal of litter and graffiti.

We have had three Rangers meetings this year and only three Rangers Rides, fewer than in previous years.
In January and February, some of us attended an excellent series of lectures at Nottinghan University on various aspects of cycling, many to do with the old Raleigh cycle factory which once stood on the site.
Our annual Biking Barbecue at Etwall Leisure Centre was hit badly by the flash flooding in July and we had to cancel it at the last minute.  The re-arranged date in September was not a good day weather-wise and only 45 people turned out.   However, a new innovation suggested by Nick Potter was very successful, that being a sale of cycling accessories including several donated complete bikes and this saved the day financially, and we made a profit of £170 from that and the sale of food and drinks.
At a subsequent Rangers Meeting the general feeling was that  the risks and work involved in the BBQ event were no longer worth while and a new type of event is planned for the future (see 2013 plan). Also we will lose support for such events with the likely demise of DCC funded “Wild Derby” and the retirement of Beverly Rhodes.

We assisted the Leicester Rangers with a stall at the Leicester Sky Ride, a most successful and well attended event.
In November our annual bonfire was a huge success with Rangers and friends enjoying a fine fish & chip supper around the blaze at Mickleover.
In December our customary Christmas Lunch was attended by 20 people including our friends in the Erewash Ranger Group.
We were sad to see the retirement this year of John Swan who has done a great job for some years at Breadsall in spite of the inherent difficulties.

Although only two of our Derby Rangers attended, the Sustrans Festivol at Walesby Camp in Sherwood Forest was highly successful. Peter Ford led rides on both the Saturday and Sunday from the camp to Creswell Crags in superb weather conditions and a good time was had by all.

Our two strimmers have been put to good effect this year in spite of problems with the weather. Derbyshire County Council mowed all 10.5 miles of the Mickleover Greenway verges just the once and we managed to cope with them otherwise. The money raised by our Biking Barbecue funded the cost of petrol, oil,  repairs, and nylon line. No mowing was done at Breadsall.
During the year we constructed three bike trailers which have been indispensable in moving tools, timber and other and materials along the Greenway. Our vehicle trailer has not had much use this year except for use at the BBQ and as a storage container, but remains a useful piece of kit nevertheless.

Bird Boxes
Last year we installed 19 nest boxes at Etwall and this year another 15 at Mickleover.  Some were sponsored by the public, covering the cost of timber and metalwork.
A recent survey of the contents was slightly disappointing with several boxes having un-hatched eggs in them and a few others with dead chicks in them. However, the occupancy was well over 50%.
A plan to do install nest boxes at Breadsall was withdrawn due to the probability of vandalism.

Glow worms
The glow worm colony on the Mickleover Greenway appears to remain static with no sign of an increase or decrease in numbers. We hope that further ground clearance will improve their habitat and that numbers will increase in the long term.

With the profit from our BBQ Event it has not been necessary to claim expenses from Sustrans and our balance remains healthy for the foreseeable future..

Volunteer Days
Several of our Rangers attended the Sustrans Volunteer Days in both Doncaster and Birmingham.

Signing Rides
It has not been necessary to have any specific signing rides this year since checks of signing and any necessary repairs  are carried out on our routine patrols.

Litter Bins
We have installed two litter bins at our own cost (ie free) on NCN Route 54, but they have been extremely successful in almost eliminating litter and discarded dog bags on the grass verges in that area. However, attempts to persuade DCC to empty them have been unsuccessful, and so we have had to carry the contents in our bike trailers to the nearest on-road litter bins where they are picked up by DCC, so we have exchanged one problem for another perhaps lesser one. Moving the bins to better positions has reduced quantities, but we are not sure that we can continue indefinitely with this service, especially at times of bad weather, illness or holidays.

Throughout the year we have attended external meetings as follows:
South Derbyshire Greenways meetings. (Quarterly)
Cycle Liaison Meetings at Matlock with Derbyshire County Council (Quarterly).
Derby City Cycle Fora  (Occasional)
Pre-Festivol Meetings with Sustrans and other Midlands Ranger Groups.

Les Sims
Group Co-ordinator
Sustrans Rangers Derby & South Derbyshire
31st December 2012

1 comment:

John SWAN said...

John Swan