INTRODUCTION: Friends of the Park member Jane Speedy has recently completed what must be the largest ever survey of park users. Here are the draft findings which make absolutely fascinating - if not disturbing - reading. Apologies that some of the data has become unformatted.
YOUR COMMENTS ON THE RESULTS WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.
" Survey of St Andrews Park- first findings- may day weekend 2008
This survey was conducted over various sunny may weekend and bank holiday days in 2008. The park was full of picnickers and social gatherings at these times, but the survey did not capture views of locals living around the park, or of dog walkers who were not much in evidence, nor did the survey group enter the children’s play area. This survey was deliberately constructed as an opportunity to gather some of the views of people who use the park on summer ‘gathering’ days , but are not so likely to have their views represented on committees or at open meetings within the local area.
There were 232 replies to the survey, some were individuals and some were family or group replies. The survey was conducted at various moments in May at weekends and bank holidays (when volunteers were available). The survey was not given out for people to fill in, the survey group went around the park with a ‘market survey’ style manner and clipboard and asked willing park goers questions…. only 23 individuals/groups of people declined to fill it in at all, although not all answered all the questions-some had to go or became obviously bored. We had already conducted a quick pilot survey and whittled out some of the questions that had been originally generated at the ‘Friends of the park’ meetings, but 11 questions was still quite long.
On the whole people in the park were very good spirited and were generous with their time. One or two groups were really very interested and had quite lengthy conversations (off survey but on task) that were recorded as comments, but I have not set all of this down here, I’ve just added a few comments to give the general flavour (i.e.: this is a quick, dirty and to some degree subjectively constructed survey as we speak). Although many of the park goers were relatively local, many of them volunteered that they were students (perhaps because the surveyors were also students) living in temporary gardenless rented accommodation.
Overall first impressions:
The increasing popularity of the park seems to be as much of a surprise to the people coming for the large summer ‘spontaneous’ gatherings as it is to the more local inhabitants
Overall there seems to be a real enjoyment of the park, the view, the ambience and the café, as well as general concern about antisocial behaviour, night-time safety and issues of health and hygiene.
Some suggestions were made consistently:
Entrance notice boards
Groups of large bins including recycling bins at all exits
Bin bags available at peak times
BBQ ban or different arrangement
Permanent park keeper
Some were different:
More development of circus skills connections?
Park gates and fences?
SAP survey mayday weekend 2008
1How did you hear about the park?
I’m local Thru networks Venue/publications Other
121 60 9
Texting each other
Mobiles-telling us what’s going down in the park, sort of party time
Friends tell friends it’s become a gathering place
Circomedia-good space to juggle
2) Whereabouts do you live?
St Andrews/Bishopston Horfield/MONTPELIER
St Werburghs 24
St Pauls 8
Monk’s park1 southmead4
Bradley stoke 1
43 Other (UK)
Chipping sodbury 1
Taiwan S 1
San Diego (USA) S 1
Japan S 2
Cochin 5 (India)
Comments: Total: 232
3) How did you get here today?
On foot 98** Bike 23 Bus 35** Car* 72
Roads around the park
Near Somerfields Other monocycle 1
*If by car, where did you park?
** Some of these came by bus and on foot
It gets quite full around the park on days like this
Some of the people living around here get a bit pissed off- I can’t say I blame them, but then the park is for everybody.
It’s nice to just walk here
Current Park use
4)How frequently do you come to this park?
17 (15 dog walkers, I jogger, I stroller)
In the summer
Never been here before 31
To practice circus skills 11
This park is becoming quite a scene
This is THE place to hang out. I never used to come here much
5) What do you use the park for?
Dog walking Playing Socialising Picnics Other
15 19 (but we did not survey the children’s area at all, somebody else is doing that) 59 45
Tai chi 3
Getting from A to B 13
I live in a flat 27
It is a great place for a party, with a nice atmosphere and a view
It has a very relaxed feel like a mini-festival sometimes
I used to come here a lot for a bit of peace, but now I just cut through in the summer because it’s so noisy and crowded
It’s got really busy I don’t know why its only a park
This is THE place and it’s cheap
A lot of us are students; we can create a kind of cheap free festival atmosphere here
It’s nice to be able to sit outside if you have no garden
6) What do you like about the park?
Play area 9
*** This place has a good vibe it has become the place to be in summer
Its just handy in-between UWE and home
It’s a great place to come if you have no garden
** The café is a great addition
I love the English tea and cakes thing
The café doesn’t always work well with the dogs
* I love the way this park is laid out, very natural and flowing
This is a fantastic situation on this slope, with a good view and plenty of space to just sit:
Its nice and quiet here, there’s so much traffic around the downs
This is a (relatively) dog poo free zone, which makes a nice change
It’s big enough that you feel you are outside in a space but small enough that you can find the friends you are meeting
I saw a fox in the evening, just strolling along, quite fantastic really, loads of people and there was this fox…
I know its only once a year but I love the carols in the park
The children’s art exhibition was lovely, really nice
7) Any problems with this park?
There are not enough bins
It gets covered in litter
We cleared up but none of the others did
There was loads of crap in the park this morning, we’ll get rats Fires (and barbeques) 23
Someone started a fire yesterday and I thought that was a bit much a bit dangerous
They shouldn’t allow barbeques its a mess
Dog poo 17
“I’ve sat in dog poo twice already and I’ve only been here half an hour Crowds/noise 53
I think it’s a fine atmosphere.
I like all the music playing
It gets a bit much at night probably
I’d hate to live here
Maybe there should be a curfew?
Why don’t they have gates and close them at say 10 or 11 at night?
The ‘rave’ type music is a bit much especially at night. I live here.
There’s a lot of very drunk/out of it people at night at least there were last night
Maybe there should be more police?
The toilets are disastrous and they look them at night, people pee everywhere and crap in the bushes
It’s a health hazard, there’s nowhere to pee
Why aren’t there any railings?
There should be railings I’ve seen kids and dogs running out after balls etc
Didn’t there used to be a fence?
Should they move in ‘festival toilets’ in the summer
See individual sections
Future park use
8)How could we improve the park?
If there are going to be this number of people there’s going to have to be something happening about the toilets
Maybe there should be a park keeper…this must be the best used park in Bristol…
There’s so many people here today you cannot even see the grass. I wonder if it’ll last the year?
9)Do you have any suggestions about litter?
Bin bags? 28
Perhaps they could hang spare bin bags somewhere like they hang spare dog bags
Recycling bins? 32
We should have recycling bins at the entrances it’s a terrible waste throwing away all that glass and those tins
More bins? 23
More big bins of each sort at each entrance
Litter patrols? 13
Good idea but I wouldn’t want to do it…
Especially not in the evenings
A park keeper?
A notice board at each entrance reminding people to take their litter home and stuff like that
(One young woman) ‘This is what happens: you are walking home and then someone texts you and says come over to the park and bring a few cans and so you come over and there’s already a few people there and a bit of mess, but nobody has a bag because its sort of a spontaneous gathering on the way home kind of thing not an organised event…and then more people gather, maybe with a bag but maybe not and then there’s even more mess but its not like we planned it its more of an accident really a gradual spontaneous build up and then its time to go and the whole area’s a complete mess but well maybe what you’ve got is a few little bags and maybe not, but what you really need is a dustbin bag but nobody thought to bring one…and well, there’s no room in the bins anyway so without a bin bag you’re buggered really. That’s it. End of.’
10)Barbeques-how could we improve this?
Good idea 53
Bad idea 79
Good idea 12
Bad idea 37
Paving slabs in grass?
Good idea 18
Bad idea 7 Other
Picnic tables (not barbeque tables) would be nice…and litter would be easier to manage
Logs to sit on?
I don’t think there’s any point in having those special barbeque places like in Australia…people would just ignore them and sit on the ground anyway
Paving slabs might work, but it might look a bit weird the rest of the year, better to just ban them (BBQs).
One of the reasons we come is that you can have a BBQ here, but maybe they should be banned… they are banned on the downs I think…and there are so many of us here it’s maybe too much to cope with…there won’t be any grass left (Young man, student)
Its like an overgrown boy scouts camp with all these ~BBQs-ridiculous
I love all the BBQs its great
11)What events would you like to see more of in the park?
*Art events? 23
***Children’s events? 7
Local history events? 3
Apparently it is a Victorian design this park, we could have tours or something…
Fairs/ fetes/circus skills/ annual party in the park with roads closed and then gates locked the rest of the time?
Comments: ** Art
• There used to be one kind of festival a year that seems to have folded but it’d be nice to resurrect
• There’ a lot of people around it’d be nice to have installations/ performance things that sort of thing
• There are so many people from Circomedia in here all the time; it seems to be their main rehearsal space, so why not get them to do something in the park once a year?
More brass bands would be nice, brass and jazz and folk maybe pop…by the café on a Sunday
Concerts in the park of the bring your own blanket variety would be nice …we could pay to come and raise money for stuff in the park
I don’t want anymore racket of the late night rave variety…people live here
Maybe events happening in the play area some times…or outside it but with children in mind fun dog shows/ fair/ that sort of thing
What about some of these circus skills students doing classes with kids /workshops in the play area?
It is really nice that there isn’t loads of structured stuff happening in this park, we can just come here and sit looking at the view and chilling and make our own entertainment
The pond-is it in the wrong place? Would be great for kids, but…
Why is that huge space given over to the park keepers when there are never any around?
Why can’t they empty the bins everyday in the summer?
There needs to be a notice board at each entrance telling you the rules and what’s on etc and maybe a park attendant who sees it as his/her job to look after the people as well as the park?
There should be more police especially when it gets dark
I think this place is great just the way it is , don’t change a thing…maybe there’s a bit too much litter and noise on the odd weekend, but, mostly its just lovely and quiet and , well, well used really
We know when peak times will be: bank holidays/summer weekends/heatwaves/ end of exams seasons for schools and colleges…why not have extra toilets, bins park keepers, police even at those times…and be prepared for it?
Jane Speedy, June 11th, 2008