Another resident closely involved with a parks group has aired reservations about Croydon Council’s “Premier League” of the borough’s parks, questioning the lack of consultation regarding a public survey conducted last year, and the failure to discuss proposals with friends groups.
Grange Park, in Old Coulsdon, the venue for the annual summer fete and many other community events through the year, is among the more than 100 parks, gardens and open spaces to be excluded from the select six “Master Parks” which were named by the council last month.
A promised report on the future status of Croydon’s parks based on a poorly circulated consultation has yet to be released.
The lucky half-dozen hand-picked parks are:
1. Ashburton Park, Ashburton
2. Park Hill Recreation Ground, Croydon
3. Happy Valley, Coulsdon
4. Lloyd Park, Croydon
5. Norbury Park, Norbury
6. South Norwood Lake & Grounds, South Norwood
But there is mounting concern that the council’s parks contractors are having to operate on much-reduced budgets, so much so that some staff have been made redundant, with the vacancies filled by recruiting replacements paid at less than the London Living Wage, despite the Labour-run council’s policy.
Hannah Price-Harries, of the Friends of Grange Park, is one of several residents involved with volunteer groups who are concerned about the lack of money available for any of the borough’s parks.
The Friends of Grange Park recently conducted wide-ranging fund-raising to completely re-equip the children’s playground, receiving grants of £70,000 towards the scheme from Biffa’s community fund and from the London Marathon charitable trust. If the scheme had been left to the local authority, it seems unlikely it would have happened.
Of the council’s announcement last month, Price-Harries said, “I am not convinced that there is anything in this even for the borough’s six ‘Master Parks’. I understood that there wasn’t a single pound in the budget for enhancements to any of the borough’s parks.
“So I’m not going to feel like Grange Park has been left out unless we begin to see investment in the ‘Master Parks’.
“Most parks are in the same dire position. Suffice to say, representatives of the Friends’ groups throughout Croydon were supposed to have been consulted on the ‘Master Parks’ programme – the forum I was due to attend was cancelled, and never rescheduled.”
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