Here’s the good, the bad and the occasionally ugly side of Greenhead Park six years after the completion of a huge £5.4m revamp.
Members of Friends of Greenhead Park accompanied the Examiner on a tour of the popular Victorian park as the group launched a ‘crowdfunding’ appeal for new play equipment.
It hopes to raise £10,000 for a ‘play train’ for younger children, pictured in an artist's impression below, to replace a broken and unsafe ‘sand play’ area in the enclosed baby and toddler play area near the top cafe.
Jane Griffiths, secretary of the Friends, said £1,000 had been provided by ward councillors while other funding sources were being looked at, including a JustGiving appeal.
“The idea is that we raise the money and Kirklees Council installs it. The budget for Greenhead Park has been cut massively; part of the council strategy is to work with volunteers so they can do more with the money they have got.”
At present, volunteers carry out varied tasks from gardening and publicity work to organising concerts in the bandstand and litter picks.
Although the park is as popular as ever, the Friends say that funding cuts are noticeable.
They point to flaking paint on the bandstand, wilting plants in the conservatory and the poor state of the ‘sand play’ area.
“The plants (in the conservatory) are not as good as they used to be,” says a volunteer who asked not to be named.
“The council gardeners are now spread too thinly after staff cuts. And the paint is peeling off the bandstand. We don’t like to be too critical as we work with the council and don’t want to fall out with them.
“We are worried about the basic fabric of the park. It was restored but is now due some maintenance. We are also worried about the future maintenance of the paddling pool.”
Friends are also concerned about the fountain which has been out of action for a while, possibly due to water leaking through stonework.
“It’s still a lovely park and attracts people of all ages and races,” adds Jane. “But if the government doesn’t change its attitude to funding local authorities this (poorer maintenance) is what’s going to happen.”
On a more positive note, the park has rarely been busier.
Hundreds take part in Park Runs at the weekend and lots of different activities take place, from petanque to Nordic walking.
And the level of vandalism is said to be very low, according to the Friends. Drainage issues which have plagued the park appear to have eased. During the Examiner’s tour there were only two small puddles on a grassed area which in the past has been waterlogged.
A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “Greenhead Park holds Green Flag status, so is nationally recognised as being maintained and managed to a high standard.
“There are always maintenance issues with any large public space and these are addressed when they arise.
“Funding for major repair works within our parks have to be assessed alongside the needs of all other council assets. The extent of the works needed to the Greenhead Park fountain are being assessed and a decision can then be taken as to how we proceed.
“Although the general maintenance of the park is carried out by the council, we welcome the invaluable additional work provided by the Friends Group, and would encourage anyone who wants to get involved in this work to contact the Friends of Greenhead Park or Natural Kirklees on www.naturalkirklees.org .
To donate toward the ‘play train’ equipment go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/fogp-playtrain
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