Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting took place in the Orangery on 28 March.  Our President, Sir Angus Stirling, chaired the meeting and was pleased to see a good turn out of Friends.  The minutes of the last AGM were approved.

The Chairman, Nicholas Hopkins, delivered his Report for the year 2006. He said that the northern part of the new irrigation system had been completed, but the Borough had lacked funds for the southern section.  The recently conserved ceramic tiles had been opened to the public for a weekend in September.  Landscaping of the Earls Court Road entrance had been completed successfully and the two tree benches being donated by the Friends would be installed shortly.  The pleached lime trees forming an extension of the brick arches beside the Belvedere Restaurant and the mixed hedgerow by the playing field had been planted.  There was no progress on the provision of children's toilets close to the Adventure Playground, nor on better utilisation of the One O'Clock Club site.  Mr Hopkins thanked Ian Thomson for continuing with the monthly Bird & Nature Walks and regretted that Graham Giddens, the Borough's ornithological adviser, had resigned.  Friends were encouraged to join the volunteer gardening group, the VIPs.  The future of the Commonwealth Institute was still uncertain, but it was thought the Government would not allow the building to be de-listed.  Plans to redevelop the Odeon Cinema would not affect the Park, though the loss of the mature plane trees was unfortunate.  The Friends had objected strongly to the proposed sale of the southern playground of Holland Park School and to the plans for residential apartments to be built on that site.  It was understood that the Plantstuff business had not gone well and FHP would be watchful if a licence renewal was sought with fewer conditions.  Mr Hopkins thanked George Law and David Jefferys for their help on all planning matters and the whole committee for their work throughout the year.  He encouraged all members to consider what they could do to assist the work of the Friends. 

The Treasurer, Roger Foreman, presented the Report of the Trustees incorporating the accounts for the year to 31 December 2006 and the Report of the Independent Examiner, which had been circulated.  The financial position was satisfactory.  Donations were down on 2005 due to a large one-off donation in that year, but subscriptions were up because of the increase in the fees and Gift Aid.  Advertising revenue was up and the net cost of the newsletter was therefore reduced.   FHP's 'grants' had been mainly for conservation of the tiles and the irrigation.  Mr Foreman thanked his Assistant Treasurer, David Jeffreys, and the Independent Examiner, Leslie Du Cane, who was re-elected.  The accounts were adopted by the meeting and Sir Angus thanked Mr Foreman for their preparation.

The Secretary, Mrs Wood, said there were at present 750 paid-up members - 50 fewer than at the same time last year.  The 200 or so who had not renewed would be reminded, but the 20% annual turnover in the Borough's population would account for some.  She thanked all Friends who were helpers in their various capacities.  In thanking Mrs Wood, Sir Angus said that the FHP owed her a great deal.

All existing members offered themselves for re-election and were duly re-elected.  Mrs Wood introduced Philippa Kennard-Bent, who was also elected to the Committee.

Looking forward, the Chairman said that FHP had promised a further £15,000 towards the irrigation system in the southern part, which should be finished during the next financial year.  In reminding the meeting of the Friends'constitution and that the main role of FHP was one of protection, he said that The Borough's neglect of Holland House over their years of ownership was disgraceful. The Friends had been trying to get the forecourt opened to the public, but health & safety considerations had prevented it.  Opera Holland Park had applied for planning permission to erect a larger canopy and more seating.  Foundation works very close to the House had already started, despite permission not yet having been granted.  This showed a worrying disregard for planning law.  The Chairman was seeking to use the situation to draw attention to the condition of the House.  (See article on Holland House). The Friends were producing a tree identification booklet in association with the Borough.  This was the 25th anniversary of FHP's first art exhibition, started by Christopher Wood, and it was appropriate that Carola Zogolovitch, daughter of the Friends' then president, Sir Hugh Casson, should have opened it.  George Law suggested involving Holland Park School in producing the sound deadening wall hangings for the cafeteria.  It was noted that the parakeet population was increasing locally.

Sir Angus closed the meeting with a vote of thanks to the Chairman.  [Summer 2007]