1 November 2011

New support for parks

Back in Victorian and Edwardian days the parks of Northampton were the envy of other towns. Whilst we still have the good quantity of that era, the quality has greatly declined. It’s not possible to place the cause on anyone or anything in particular; we must all take a share of the blame. TV means that we now take a large portion of our leisure indoors and financial pressures mean that the Council no longer make the necessary investments. These of course are exaggerations because people still do visit local parks in smaller numbers and the Council does what it can, but with no statutory requirement to maintain parks it is an easy area to cut when times are hard, the only cutting now left is the grass.

Within the Borough Council organisation there is no longer anyone with overall day to day responsibility for open spaces, Neighbourhood Wardens take care of the community aspect, Regeneration is concerned with planning, Estate with buildings and Enterprise (the same company that empties our bins) with maintenance. The result has been that there can be confusion even within NBC itself, let alone for those outside.

Over the last decade local residents have come to the defence of the parks they enjoy, helping with minor maintenance work, clearing litter, raising fund for equipment and where possible putting pressure on the Council to do more.

At present around half of our parks are supported by Friends Groups, but they have tended to work in isolation. However, following talks over the last few months, with the support of the community support charity Groundwork Northants, a meeting has been arranged to bring them all together to discuss their ideas and problems. Through co-operation it is hoped that the Forum can pool resources and expertise to achieve more as a group than they can seperately. It is also planned to encourage the formation of new Friends Groups in those parks that don’t have one at present.

Many of the smaller parks, play areas and open spaces are cared for by Resident Associations, it is hoped that they too will be able to benefit, along with those individuals who take it upon themselves to do whatever they can.

The first forum meeting has been arranged for 16 November, where the speaker will be Julie Seddon the Director of Planning & Environment at NBC. If you would like to attend then email NptSpaces@Gmail.com for details and an invitation.

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