The Gordon Road Area Street Scheme (GRASS) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) for members at The Oval Bandstand & Lawns on 22nd July 2021. Our chair, Simon Bell, had the following words to say:

“Dear Members,

We hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well during these turbulent times. We recognise that this is an immensely frustrating and potentially difficult time for community groups and associations, but we also know the importance of these groups in keeping people connected, and as things get back to something like normality, our groups will have an especially important role to play.

The last 16 months has proven to be an extraordinary time for all of us. And whilst nothing GRASS has endured compares to the loss of a loved on, there have been disappointments for our community group. The Cliftonville Games, the Cliftonville Outdoor Cinema, and the GRASS Children’s Christmas Party all had to be cancelled last year. However, during these most trying times, the GRASS community group has also shown its worth:

    • We delivered several food voucher schemes and supported over 300 families
    • We continued to produce and deliver the GRASS ROOTS newsletter to Cliftonville and helped promote other local community groups and organisations.
    • We applied for funding as part of the Margate Town Deal and £500,000 has been allocated, and we are about to embark on writing our business case so that we can be one of the first community projects to start work.

And through the worst months of the pandemic, the GRASS committee were busy working on the community asset transfer of The Oval – from submitting our bid document at the end of March 2020, to being notified June last year that we had been successful, to appointing solicitors at the start of January 2021, to spending the last six months negotiating contracts and finalising all the legal work for the purchase of the site, and then finally completing two weeks ago on 8th July. It’s been quite a ride, filled with lots of emotional highs, and some disappointing lows, but we got there in the end through sheer hard work, positivity, and perseverance.

Now we find ourselves here today celebrating GRASS’s 18th birthday as the new owners of The Oval Bandstand and Lawns. I couldn’t be more proud of the achievements of our fantastic committee and band of wonderful volunteers.

And the future is even more exciting, as we are now throwing ourselves
with gusto into site improvement works; already we have created the largest new wildflower garden in Cliftonville (over 120m2), planted up 18 hanging baskets for The Oval’s lampposts, and we’ll be installing festoon lights & multi-coloured bunting over the next few days. Then in early August we will be opening the newly refurbished kiosk to sell hot & cold drinks and a variety of food. We’ll also be reopening The Oval’s public toilets so that beach users and walkers have access to much needed facilities on the Cliftonville coastline. And last, but certainly not least, we’ll also be repairing and repainting the iconic bandstand structure, so it’s protected from the harsh coastal weather.

On top of the site upgrade works, we are also planning a full programme of entertainment during August and September, with free live music returning to The Oval Bandstand as part of our Summer Sunday’s concerts. Don’t forget to follow us on social media for announcements. We also have two more outdoor cinemas planned, as well as the Cliftonville Games, and we are also hosting Margate Pride at The Oval on 14th August. We are certainly going to make the most of what remains of the summer.

Looking back, the year has been particularly satisfying because we started a membership drive so we can better connect with the community we serve. We now have 86 members, which compares to zero at this time last year. We must now embark on a process of consultation with our members, whilst also providing the opportunity for people to meet other residents at our members social events.

I want to express my thanks for the support of the Committee. It is a very effective team and I hope that the forthcoming year will see us getting back in gear to really deliver for Cliftonville.

Lastly, I want to thank all our wonderful volunteers who make our community events a wonderfully vibrant addition to life here in Cliftonville. Thank you from myself, and the GRASS committee, for all your efforts, you really are all brilliant.”

If you would like to read the minutes from the GRASS AGM they can be found on the ‘GRASS Governance‘ page of our website by clicking HERE.