Parks under threat from council cutbacks and Lottery rethink on ongoing support
By Bill Heaney
March 11, 2018 – Our parks and green spaces are where we go to play, relax and escape – but right now they’re in crisis.
The SNP, backed by the Tories and Independent Denis Agnew last week agreed cuts to expenditure on keeping West Dunbartonshire’s parks, cemeteries and leisure spaces neat and tidy.
They also want to cut back on cash for flowers and plants.
Now, an additional blow has been struck to the parks with one of the last pots of money being axed.
Heritage Lottery Fund’s parks programme has invested millions of pounds in our parks and green spaces, such as Levengrove in Dumbarton, Christie Park in Alexandria, Hermitage Park in Helensburgh and Dalmuir Park in Clydebank.
But they’ve just scrapped the fund, putting the future of our parks and cemeteries at risk, although it is uncertain whether this will affect plans already in the pipeline for Levengrove.
West Dunbartonshire Council’s Greenspace section has been successful with a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Parks for People programme to restore the heritage of Levengrove Park.
The award is £2.8 million with the Council committing £800,000 towards the project with a further £120,000 of work in kind.
The project includes the following:
Restoration of the park’s heritage features – St Serf’s Church, Shiers Well, Kilmahew Fountain and the Cenotaph.
The re-creation of the original main entrance to the park by reinstating the gate posts and installing replacement gates to the original design.
Repairs to the existing pedestrian gates and replace missing gates.
Repair sections of the boundary wall.
Replace the existing dilapidated pavilion with cafe facility and Park Ranger’s office / workspace.
Extend Social Work / Grounds Maintenance facility in the depot, including improved access, parking for disabled, new pedestrian access, disabled play area and reduce height of hedge.
Instigate traffic management measures including provision of improved vehicle access point to rear of park.
Remove old play areas and install new play facilities for all ages, including facilities for disabled visitors.
Repair paths and associated drainage throughout park.
Remove dilapidated buildings and fences throughout the park.
Reduce impact of tarmac area at former bandstand by replacing with paths and soft landscaping.
Install signage and interpretation panels to promote greater awareness of the heritage value of the park and enhance the visitor experience.
Install new seats and picnic benches.
Remove hedges to open up views to the River Leven.
Implement findings of tree survey and recommendations (eg removal of inappropriate planting and the restoration of the original park design where appropriate).
Install CCTV round heritage features, and lighting from new pavilion through park to main entrance to improve personal security.
Employment of staff to work with the local community to develop and promote the park and heritage features.
Proposed Project plan:
February 2017 – Advanced tree and hedge works
April 2017 – Demolish disused pavilion and kiosk and remove derelict fences
May 2017 – Remove old play equipment and install new equipment
August 2017 – Start main construction contract
July 2018 – Complete site works
The Friends of Levengrove Park are a group of people who wish to see Levengrove Park restored and enhanced to be a Park at the heart of the community.
The group have been working in partnership with West Dumbartonshire Council Greenspace since 2014 when a Stage Two application was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Parks for People Fund.
The inaugural meeting of the Friends of Levengrove Park was held on 25 September 2014, with meetings being held on a monthly basis. The Friends group became a constituted group on 20 June 2016 and intend becoming a registered charity in the near future.
The Friends group have been active, along with members of the wider community, organising and participating in activities and events in conjunction with West Dunbartonshire Council Greenspace.
It was revealed at the weekend that the Lottery Fund is now asking the public how they should spend their money in the next financial year.
And petition against the cash support withdrawal has been raised on Change.org.
The Parks Alliance said: “If thousands of us speak up for our parks now, we could secure the money they desperately need.
“We have started a 38 Degrees campaign to make sure parks get this vital funding back.
“If hundreds and thousands of us add our names, it’ll show the Heritage Lottery Fund how much the public love their parks – and convince them to once again give them the cash they need.”