In the last newsletter I mentioned that there were increasing comments and complaints about a noticeable decline in standards of upkeep in Westminster Park with grassed areas being cut less frequently and looking untidy, weeds spreading across paths, the children’s play area and BMX track, and damage from vandalism. We have been discussing these issues with Council officers who recognise that standards have declined this year but are under increasing pressure from constraints on public spending. They have undertaken to clarify and define standards and implement them more rigorously next year. Some damage from vandalism has been repaired and there were also a couple of volunteer events late in the season to catch up on a backlog of work. However, financial constraints are unlikely to be relaxed and a greater contribution is going to be needed from local volunteers to uphold standards in the future. All of us greatly value the park and its facilities so if you are able to contribute some of your time to help with tidying the park, do please get in touch with our secretary, Sue Britton, at email@example.com .
We have also been discussing improved preventative and security measures against incursions by travellers and vandalism. One possibility has been installing a height restriction barrier but a traffic survey has shown that a large number of taller vehicles come to the park entirely legitimately. In addition to the inconvenience caused, a barrier could result in detering visitors or unwanted parking in front of houses on adjacent roads. Other possibilities include reinstating CCTV cameras, installing internal barriers to prevent vehicle access to the sports pitches, and closing the park gates at night. These are still being considered.
Refurbishment of the changing room area in the central café block is still in hand and, with no additional funding available, the Council is seeking to establish working arrangements with potential user groups to look after opening and closing, regular cleaning and replenishment of supplies.
On the positive side, the café now being managed by Golfstorehouse has been offering a much improved range of food and refreshments and is being used by an increasing number of visitors to the park and groups including mother and toddler, Scrabble and ukulele. We have also been most grateful to receive the donation of another seat in the park making a total of four this year in addition to two picnic benches last year. And once again, the wide variety of trees in the park have been showing their delightful autumn colours.