Opinion: Disagreement over the state of Peterborough’s Central Park

PT reader Ken Barker has written expressing concern about the state of Peterborough’s Central Park, but we have also heard from Tony Forster of the Friends of Central Park and Toby Wood who disagree with his assessment. Here we print their views, let us know what you think...

Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 5:00 am
Central Park - a late summer/early autumn mood by Toby Wood

It was with interest that I saw the photograph of Central Park in your September 16 issue however, this cannot be considered as a fair reflection of this park as Park Crescent residents view this park much differently every day.

Park Crescent residents have been campaigning to councillors and council officials via walk round meetings and correspondence over the last four years in an effort to have this overgrown and untidy area cut right back and regularly maintained.

Local streets and pavements are not swept regularly, no litter and no fly tipping signs are to be installed as well as more litter bins, all this will happen we’re told but as yet very little has.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Grassed areas are currently cut back just once a year with the perimeter overgrown areas less still, weeds are in abundance, branches from trees are too low, some trees and shrubs are actually dead in some areas and dog fouling is dreadful in places.

This was once a beautiful park that was loved and used regularly by many but we now suffer high levels of litter, dog fowling, fly tipping and much worse still.

Councillor Nigel Simons has agreed that this is not biodiversity but is actually a mess and promised to arrange a thorough clean-up, that was in July and we’re still awaiting.

Perhaps this might really highlight what parts of Central Park is like.

Ken Barker, Peterborough

......

Ken Barker in his letter to you says residents of Park Crescent are unhappy with the state of Central Park.

He said: “This was once a beautiful park loved and used and used by many but…”

He obviously hasn’t been in the park this summer and September.

The park is better used than I ever remember and has been full of a huge variety of people enjoying what it offers.

It is indeed loved by the increasing number who use it regularly.

His particular complaint focuses on grassed areas being cut less frequently. He says they are cut once a year: I think it is closer to 15 times a year for the main area (recently you featured the Family Fun Day, with grass cut suitably for cricket matches noticeable).

He also criticises the less frequently maintained perimeter areas, saying “this is not biodiversity but a mess”.

Central Park is honoured to receive Green Flag status year after year: a constant theme in the last few years in the judges’ report is improving sustainability and in particular biodiversity.

That is why Friends of the Park paid for hedgehog houses, bird boxes and bat boxes earlier this year, with Aragon generously installing them. I agree the outer edges are a work in progress, and we are keen to work with users and Aragon to ensure we improve the habitat, encouraging pollinators and small mammals and birds.

We see involving park users more in the way the park becomes more sustainable as important, and welcome any who wish to work with us on this.

Tony Forster

Chair, Friends of Central Park

.......

I must take issue with Ken Barker’s letter (September 23) in which he states that my photograph of Central Park “cannot be considered as a fair reflection” of the park.

I did not intend the picture to be considered as a fair reflection, merely as (literally) a snapshot of what I saw on a bright, sunny early September morning. Mr Barker may have a differing view and is welcome to submit photographs for publication to the Peterborough Telegraph for consideration.

In these difficult times we have a responsibility to try to be positive and there is a lot to be positive about Central Park and those who maintain it.

My wife and I are regular users and it has been a place for solace and recreation during the past 18 months.

We have sat on a bench watching the world go by, we have seen groups of women keeping fit, young mums with toddlers, Tai Chi practitioners, joggers, walkers, sitters and standers!

The Willow cafe has been revitalised and provides an excellent focus.

Mr Barker seems to be highly critical of the condition of the park and its environs. I completely agree that improvements can be made but it is my experience that those who are employed to look after the park are diligent and hard-working. You only have to look at the flower beds around the willow tree, as well as other areas, to see that efforts are being made.

I fully accept that there is anti-social behaviour, particularly at night. I have been told this by residents living on the west side of the park so the current situation is not all rosy.

Mr Barker writes that ‘no litter and no fly tipping signs are to be installed’. In my opinion it is very unlikely that these signs would have any effect. In fact they would merely provide unnecessary clutter and I doubt if any fly-tipper would be put off by a few signs.

I know that here is a very active residents’ association in the area as well as the Friends of Central Park.

I suggest that Mr Barker contacts these long-established bodies should he wish to contribute positive suggestions and improvements.

Mr Barker contends that: “this was once a beautiful park that was loved and used regularly”. It still is!

Toby Wood

Peterborough