The Committee are invited to elect a Chairman in accordance with Standing Order 29.
The Committee proceeded to elect a Chairman in accordance with Standing Order No. 29. The Town Clerk read a list of Members eligible to stand and Oliver Sells being the only Member expressing their willingness to serve was duly elected Chairman for the ensuing year and took the Chair.
RESOLVED – That Oliver Sells be elected Chairman of the Committee for the ensuing year.
The Committee expressed their thanks to the outgoing Chairman Graeme Doshi-Smith.
VOTE OF THANKS
Proposed by Barbara Newman.
That the Members of the Open Spaces and City Gardens Committee wish to place on record their sincere appreciation to
GRAEME MARTYN DOSHI-SMITH
Their very great and sincere thanks and appreciation for the distinguished manner in which he has served as Chairman since 6th June 2016. Much has been achieved during Graeme’s Chairmanship in what has been a challenging financial and political period. He has combined an open minded, forward looking, balanced and calm approach with good humour and enthusiasm.
As the Strategic Committee for all the City’s Open Spaces, Graeme oversaw the passage of the City of London Corporation (Open Spaces) Act 2018 from its October 2016 Third Reading in the House of Commons, to the gaining of Royal Assent on 15 March 2018.
Graeme has provided strategic leadership on matters affecting the whole Department. Graeme recommended final amendments to the overarching Departmental Events Policy which, together with the site-specific plans, has established clear guidelines to event organisers and ensures that events are properly managed from both a conservation and community impact perspective.
Recognising the value that the Learning Programme brings to young people and adults who struggle to experience and connect with nature, he fully backed the request for core funding to embed the Learning Programme within the Department. Similarly, thanks to Graeme’s forward-thinking approach, 23 people have been given opportunities across the Open Spaces Department under our apprenticeship scheme. Graeme is also an adamant supporter of the many volunteers who assist across our open spaces. Over the past three years, grants totalling £250k have been awarded to twenty community, charity and voluntary organisations through the ‘Enjoying Green Spaces and the Natural Environment’ grant aid scheme which Graeme introduced in partnership with the City Corporation’s Central Grants Scheme.
A keen supporter of responsible and sustainable business practices, Graeme has promoted the Department’s introduction of Photo-voltaic solar panels on some of its buildings, which has seen the Department significantly increase its contribution to electricity generation. Similarly, officers are reducing fleet and machinery costs and converting to cleaner fuels, highlighted within the Square Mile by the City Gardens team’s compliance with 2019 Ultra-Low Emissions Zone legislation.
A champion of the opportunities and benefits that ‘fit-for-purpose’, supported technology can bring to the Open Spaces Department and the wider City, Graeme was delighted to see the City Gardens team awarded Transformation Fund resources to introduce an electronic management system to reduce paper processing and to improve management information leading to more effective resource allocation.
A wide array of City landscape improvements and capital projects have been completed under Graeme’s watchful eye, enhancing the open space offer to the City’s residents, workers and visitors. These include the strategic new gateway to the City at Aldgate Square; the reinstatement of the historic Pepys Garden at Seething Lane where wildlife-friendly planting now sits atop three storeys of underground infrastructure; the commemorative Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Garden, now adorning the space where coaches once parked and Mitre Square, marking the spot where Jack-the-Ripper once plied his grisly trade. Negotiations with Crossrail continue regarding Finsbury Circus Garden, its remaining underground infrastructure and the reinstatement of the site as the Square Mile’s largest and oldest public open space.
The retention of 14 Green Flag and 12 Green Heritage Scheme Awards for this Committee for each of his three years of Chairmanship are a testimony to Graeme’s interest in the quality of the visitor offer, as are the Gold award at the Britain in Bloom finals in 2018, and the innumerable gold awards and park-of-the-year awards at London in Bloom.
Finally, the Committee wishes to place on record its recognition of Graeme’s distinguished contribution to the work of the Committee and in thanking him for his generous hospitality, his colleagues convey to him their good wishes for the future, with happy memories of a substantial body of achievement over the past three years.