Friday, 19 October 2007

Sharing responsibility for the park

Autumn colour in site of proposed Nottingham Peace Garden

Dave and a colleague asking a group of footballers to move on.

Stud marks on Lenton Recreation Ground.

Yesterday afternoon as I was on one of perambulations around Lenton recreation Ground and being dazzled by the autumn colours beginning to take hold in the trees — hence my first picture — when I saw a group of young men gathering in the park, presumably students, and saw one sitting at a picnic bench changing from trainers into studded boots. Dave, our park groundsman, and a colleague noticed them as well. Dave, being the diplomat that he is persuaded them to move on. I don't know what he said, but they left the park. Afterwards I took the picture showing studmarks and a torn strip of grass caused by a sliding boot. There were plenty of others to see and I photographed a few. Anyone who knows what happened to the park a few years ago will appreciate just how quickly the park can be damaged by too much football and rugby.

At the end of the day Dave went home and the park was left unattended. No one expects the staff to bring their beds with them. To make matters worse it was not being locked at night, as I have reported in this blog on previous occasions. Just before dark, the footballers and the studs were back and continued playing until they could only see what they were doing by the light from streetlamps.

Today, I'm pleased to report that the park was locked at dusk and will be every night from now on. Of course, it won't stop people climbing over the fence, but no one can do that anyway.

After a gap of a good few years, there are plans to resurrect the Neighbourhood Watch scheme on Devonshire Promenade. As a first step, I've just spent an hour knocking on every door along the Promenade handing out copies of our community newsletter, News From The Forum, together with other handouts. If you take out the three permanent households, I got answers from 14 out of 19 houses, which I'm very happy with. Several were quite chatty and that is all the encouragement one needs to go ahead with re-launching the Neighbourhood Watch scheme sometime next month.

Perhaps, in the new year, the new 'Street Reps Project', which is being piloted in another part of Lenton by the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum, the Students' Union, Nottingham University and the City Council's Area 8 Committee will be extended to this part of Lenton and we can get a few students involved in the Neighbourhood Watch and helping to keep an eye on Lenton Recreation Ground.

I make no secret of the fact that I would like to see local residents taking on more responsibility for the park. The council staff it during the day, so the least we could do would be to make sure the park is secure at night. I and other neighbours would be happy to help on a voluntary basis and if we had the help of student Street Reps during term time that would be great. The great beauty of this arrangement is that the park won't be lock early. Nothing annoys park users more than being asked to leave the park before the Sun has set.

Such an arrangement would not do any staff out of a job, because locking the park at dusk is a real logistical problem for Nottingham City Council. Politicians and the media talk about ordinary people having 'responsibilities' as well as 'rights', so when you get local residents willing to accept responsibility surely they should be encouraged and supported? So how about sharing responsibility for the park with us instead of restricting us to consultation meetings and PR exercises?

Lenton Recreation Ground is worth is weight in gold, as are all parks. They deserved to be cared for and cherished by everyone.

Northern Rock Chairman quits four days after being quizzed by MPs.

No comments: