The Friends of Park Fields
Park Fields is situated in Parkgate, Neston and is a 41 acre site dedicated to public recreational activities. It was acquired by the pre-WW2 Local Authority expressly for that purpose.
During WW2, an area of some 29 acres was leased to a local farmer for agricultural purposes in support of the war effort. The lease continued for many years and that land became known as "the Cowfield" to local inhabitants. In 2007 The Friends group was formed after the Local Authority terminated the lease. Once unoccupied, people began to re-use the field as a shortcut and for recreation, and this use gradually increased. Local people, who now enjoyed strolling over the whole site, were worried about the future of the Cowfield and banded together to form a community group - hence the beginnings of the “Friends”.
The present Council (Cheshire West and Chester) was approached and the Friends signed a renewable Management Agreement in 2009 to jointly manage the site with the Council. Both parties were delighted with this outcome. Renewal steps are currently in hand.
To Protect and enhance the natural beauty and bio-diversity of the open space for the benefit of the whole community.
Our objectives are achieved via an initial Management Plan with CWaC which was entered into in 2009. This plan states that FoPF will actively manage the Cowfield part of the site, ensuring effective management of the hay meadow and surrounding environs. It is important to ensure that the haycrop is taken each year, and this has proved to be a significant challenge. In 2018 a local farmer, who has a small-holding, has taken the hay crop as silage which he will use to feed his small herd of highland cattle and sheep. A Hedgerow Maintenance Plan, drawn up by our Vice-Chairman, has been accepted and the Council will be involved in implementation of the plan. This co-operation with the Council is vital to the Friends in ensuring that we manage the hedgerows effectively, and also ensures the habitats for birds and small mammals are protected. On an ongoing basis we maintain the access points to the whole site, the Notice Boards, and the benches. One of our dedicated volunteers keeps areas around these features - the Monument - strimmed and tidy on a regular basis, and other volunteers undertake projects from time to time as required.
The Friends group actively engages with the local community on an ongoing basis. We keep people informed of news and events via Newsletters and our Notice Boards. We encourage all members of the community to engage with projects on the field. For example, we have had up to 40 volunteers sowing seeds for the wild flower meadow, and groups of volunteers have helped to plant new hedgerows around the field and to rip up old barbed wire fencing which was later replaced with safer sheep-wire. Volunteers have cleared brash and helped to cut hedges. Bat Evenings have been a success, with local people and school children enjoying identifying species of bats with “bat” monitors on the fields as dusk fell.