'˜We got it wrong' - Central and Itter parks get winter attendants re-instated after Peterborough council leader admits cuts mistake

Central Park and Itter Park will have winter attendants re-instated after the leader of Peterborough City Council admitted removing them was a mistake.

Saturday, 29th October 2016, 6:30 am
Updated Monday, 31st October 2016, 9:52 am
Coun Gavin Elsey, Coun John Peach, Yvonne Lowndes, chairman of the Friends of Central Park with Ian lilley, Steve Woodruff and Arthur Fisher (park rangers) with their new Green Flag EMN-150816-170026009

Councillor John Holdich told the Peterborough Telegraph “Hands up we got it wrong,” after cuts were blamed for an increase in anti-social behaviour at Central Park.

Budget proposals for 2017/18, released yesterday (Friday, October 28), include a £48,209 investment to make sure in the winter there is either a staff member from Amey - the council’s environmental services partner - or the city’s Prevention and Enforcement Service (PES) which tackles anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Holdich said: “Hands up we got it wrong, and we will put it right. We have pride in our city and I want others to have pride.”

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A decision to reduce maintenance in parks and cemeteries by 25 per cent was agreed by the council for its 2015/16 budget to save £100,000.

But it meant that Amey would no longer provide a permanent staff member at Central Park, in Park Road, and Itter Park, off Fulbridge Road, from October to the end of March.

The Peterborough Telegraph ran a feature in February this year where concerns were raised about the level of anti-social behaviour at Central Park, with MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson warning that the park could become a “no-go area.”

Mr Jackson and other park users were keen to talk up the facilities at the Green Flag-winning park, but widespread concerns about drug dealing and damage to the bowling green were blamed on a lack of staff.

Cllr David Seaton, cabinet member for resources, said: “We are establishing a budget because we know we will get a presence in Central Park and Itter Park.

“Exactly what that presence will be - whether its someone from Amey during the day or enforcement staff who can be more flexible over a 24 hour period, or a mixture - we are still to make a final decision.

“If we can base the PES in Central Park that’s our preference.”

Cllr Seaton also praised Cllr Holdich’s leadership for reinvesting some money back into the two parks.

He added: “One of John’s strengths is listening to residents. He talks to a lot of people in this city and he’s very good at picking up what’s happening on the ground.”

The latest budget also has proposals to re-instate annual shrub cuts at a cost of £79,000.

These were reduced to bi-annual cuts in the 2014/15 budget.

The re-investment in parks and shrub cuttings follows another u-turn back in June when the council decided to re-invest £13,000 back into grass cuttings after a string of complaints to the Peterborough Telegraph.

Cllr Holdich added: “It’s a balance between cutting the grass and looking after old people and children.”