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About The Friends Of Onchan Park

The Story So Far

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Evidence for the ‘Future of Public Parks’ Inquiry

Secure Future

 

About The Friends Of Onchan Park

The Friends Of Onchan Park aim to save the park so that those who have enjoyed using it for the past 50 years can continue to use it and it will be there for many future generations. Setting up the Friends Of Onchan park allows the local community to have a say in how it’s run, raise funding for new equipment and make it a great community influenced facility.

The Story So Far

The ‘Save Onchan Park’ Facebook group was setup in January 2016 after a local resident stumbled upon some notes from a Gedling Borough Council meeting stating that all local parks and playgrounds were considered ‘assets’ and were being considered for sale.

This included Onchan Park.

Now with 1,000+ members there is real support for saving the park which led to the creation of the ‘Friends Of Onchan Park’ group.

To save the park real action was required. A meeting at the local St. John’s Church was arranged and along with the local community was attended by David Wakelin (Corporate Director from GBC), Melvyn Cryer (Service Manager – Parks & Street Care) and local councillors Nicki Brooks and Paul Wilkinson.

It was confirmed that one option being considered for the park was to sell the pavilion, bowling green and football and tennis courts for redevelopment which would most likely be housing. The funding deficit meant money has to be found and the easiest way to achieve this is to sell ‘assets’ like Onchan Park.

The only other viable option would be to form a community group that can apply for funding and work with the council to secure the future of the park and come up with an improvement plan.

Plenty of volunteers put their name forward to help not only save the park but plan for it’s future.

With coverage of the meeting in the Nottingham Post support for the initiative was taking shape and plans for the creation of the ‘Friends Of Onchan Park’ already being discussed.

To be continued

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To support our cause, any donations would be gratefully received. You can post a cheque to The Treasurer, Friends of Onchan Park, 19 Greenhill Road, Nottingham NG4 1DF or use the PayPal link below:


Evidence for the ‘Future of Public Parks’ Inquiry
In July 2016 “The Communities and Local Government Committee launches an inquiry into public parks to examine the impact of reduced local authority budgets on these open spaces and consider concerns that their existence is under threat.”  See the parliament website for more details.Here is the written evidence submitted by Alison Pritchard on behalf of the Friends of Onchan Park group, Carlton, Nottingham.

Executive Summary

Oakdale Road Recreation Ground, known locally as “Onchan Park” is located on the east side of Nottingham city, within the Gedling Borough Council boundary.  It is a small, well frequented, recreation park 0.96 ha and until recently housed a bowling green, pavilion, tennis court, multi-use court, children’s play area and gardens.

Gedling Borough Council have passed the park to their asset management team who are in the process of putting forward proposals to sell the park, or parts of it, for building land.  In their own strategy and policies they acknowledge the park as one of “significant local importance”, being in an area already “deprived of open space” they acknowledge that “priority should be made for enhancing provision of parks and gardens in urban areas of deficiency.”   They acknowledge that the nearest alternative park is “not necessarily safe to travel to” and is 20 minutes’ walk away.  Yet they are still working on preparing proposals for decision of sale.

Friends of Onchan Park group has massive support within the local community from local MP, local councillors, county councillors, local schools and youth groups.  We have surveyed the local community and have a striking response of over 600 surveys and covered over 1000 people in focus groups. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of green and hard court facilities and a community hub for the old pavilion.

We would welcome the opportunity to raise funds to carry out regeneration of the park, but the director of asset management and the leader of the council wish to put in for a change of designation to allow building and wish to seek cabinet approval for sale of some or all of the land.

The borough has no legal responsibility to provide parks and recreational spaces and cannot afford the ongoing maintenance.  They are open to offering the land on a peppercorn rent, but this would not be a financially viable opportunity as the park provides a service; people don’t pay to use it and there is no government funding to provide for it.

We would like the government to stop the sale of our parks, recreation grounds and open spaces immediately.  Whilst recent acknowledgement has been given to green prescriptions and the value of such space on physical and mental wellbeing of the population; austerity measures on councils have resulted in many parks already in the process of being lost now, robbing future generations of these spaces.  It is vital that urgent measures are put in place to protect these spaces particularly in urban areas lacking alternative green space as once they are gone they can never be recovered.

Answers to specific questions:
  • Who uses parks and open spaces, how often and for what:

 Up until recent years when our local park was left to decline it was used by the elderly for bowling and watching the bowls, there was a vibrant community group of elderly people who have had to move to a bowls group further afield.  Some of the members had to stop playing at that point as the distance to the alternative location was too far.  The bowling green is now used by children and young adults playing football and cricket.

The park was used by tennis players regularly, however with the loss of funding and only space for a single court (the other one had been turned into a supposed multi-use games area with such limited funding that the contractor destroyed the space by coating the surface in sharp gravel.  It is no longer useable.) This resulted in tennis nets being wasted as the children wanting to play football resorted to removing the net to use the other space for football.

Families with young children use the space for play and picnics, visiting after school and often staying until the park closed.  Lack of funding resulted in no staff to open toilets which meant visits became shorter.

The biggest users of the park are the 8 plus age group, who are old enough to come and play with their friends without supervision, these children are there every weekend and every day after school, weather permitting.  Due to the location of such parks, small enough for recreation and yet in the middle of housing areas where local residents are around makes this kind of park the perfect place for children to learn their independence in a relatively safe environment.

According to our survey of the local community and schools, the most popular activities for the park would be Picnic area; tennis; table tennis and bowls.  The younger children had lots of ideas for play equipment. (Appendix 2)

  • The contribution of parks to the health and well-being of communities

Our local park Oakdale Road Recreation Ground is extremely small, yet everyday people walk around it as part of their exercise; dog walking; jogging route.  The visual and aesthetic value is shown as people make a conscious decision to take this route.

The loss of even just a small park in this case equates to a loss of up to 45 trees, 360m hedges and flower borders. (Appendix 1)

Flooding risk to the surrounding houses may increase. The air quality may be reduced if the trees are cut down.

The loss of green space and trees which are used directly by many families and children every day and are visible from Oakdale road by passing cars and pedestrians will result in a reduction in mental health and wellbeing and will reduce the opportunity for physical exercise for local residents. (See references).

When the park was first created in the 1950s, the planting was considered carefully and many species of tree and shrub were included. This makes the park attractive all year round for people and animals, with berries and evergreens in the winter, flowering trees in the spring, shade and shelter provision during the summer and colourful displays of leaves and fruits in the autumn.

Trees catch rainwater and allow it to evaporate or flow to the soil or into drains, this reduces stormwater run-off. Trees remove air pollution and store carbon. Trees reduce the effects of extreme temperatures, reducing the need for cooling in summer and heating in winter.

 

  • The impact of reductions in local authority budgets on parks

Gedling Borough Council are currently looking for parks to close, they simply cannot afford to run them as open spaces. Smaller parks, in particular, bowling greens in the midst of housing are under threat.  There is likely to be less opposition than to larger parks as the user demographic is naturally smaller.

  • What the administrative status of parks should be in light of declining local authority resources for non-statutory services.

In order to ensure the preservation of our parks, they should be made a statutory service of the local authorities or another umbrella organisation that has a duty to protect and provide the parks, informal green spaces, and recreation grounds that provide for the well-being of the population.

Our public parks are over 175 years old, and the Government should regard all parks throughout the UK as a wealth of treasured resources for the well-being and horticultural education of the community that each of them serve. For example, Derby Arboretum was the first park to be created in the UK with the aim that it would be a haven amid the smog; whilst Victoria Park in Hackney, was originally designed to help alleviate the awful health conditions among the dock workers. There are many other examples, but the bottom line is that, the Government should reverse the steady and unacceptable decline in funding for our parks, and it should sufficiently remunerate local authorities, so that they can adequately, and without hindrance, administrate our parks for the greater good of future generations.

  • How new and existing parks can best be supported.
  1. Some form of protective legislation must be put in place to retain all green spaces and parks especially in urban and high residential areas.
  2. Maintenance of green spaces needs adequate funding.
  3. Small parks within communities should be given funding as part of health initiatives for physical and mental well-being.
  4. Larger country parks that can hold big events that raise vast amounts of money could support the smaller parks, but legislation needs to be put in place to stop authorities simply keeping and investing in parks that can bring in large revenues and losing the small parks that cannot make a profit.
  5. Some form of offsetting, similar to the carbon offsetting whereby unhealthy product sales support healthy infrastructure such as parks could be put in place.
  • What additional or alternative funding is available and what scope is there for local authorities to generate revenue from park users

Unfortunately small local parks cannot raise large revenues through outdoor concerts and sporting events, as such they are dependent upon some kind of umbrella organisation funded by local authority or central govt.

We would like the opportunity to bid for regeneration funding from sports organisations and lottery bids, and large companies, however the ongoing management; maintenance; insurance costs still need funding from the umbrella organisation.

  • What the advantages and disadvantages are of other management models, such as privatisation, outsourcing or mutualisation

A small local community park cannot run as a business without funding from an external source.  It would be a tragedy for larger parks that have the capacity to hold festivals and other sources of large income, to be privatised in any form as they can bring in the revenue to support the smaller parks that provide the green infrastructure within our cities and residential areas.

Appendix 1 Trees and Hedges Survey: trees-and-hedges-survey

Appendix 2 Our online Survey results: survey-graphs-for-alison-parks-submission

Primary school focus group reports: Sacred Heart School and Carlton Central Junior School

 

 

Secure Future

To all the Onchan Park Friends and Supporters on 18/10/16

Fantastic news, Cllr John Clarke emailed a letter this afternoon stating that “The whole park’s future is secure and none of the land will be developed for housing.”  He also comments that he “hopes we can work together to improve the facilities”
A huge thankyou goes out to all of you who have attended meetings; voiced your concerns; completed our survey; signed our petition; come along to our events; entered our mural competition; or supported the park in any way as it is the efforts of all in our community that have enabled us to ‘save Onchan Park’.
Watch this space, as the work has only just begun.  We shall be liaising with the council to provide the facilities and create the park that the community wants.  It will take time as we shall have to bid for a great deal of funding.  However, we shall keep you informed of the developments and ensure that your views will be taken into account when deciding the kind of park our community wants to create.
Thanks to you all,
Alison Pritchard on behalf of Friends of Onchan Park