Voluntary groups raise concern about parks strategy

Friends of Dukes Meadows and Havard Hill say priorities wrong

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Two local voluntary groups are raising concerns over a new strategy for managing parks in Chiswick. The Friends of Dukes Meadows and the Friends of Havard Hill are concerned that the policy will leave wide areas of Chiswick without adequately maintained play areas.

The council has proposed a 'parks strategy' for the management of funds allocated to parks and open space. The strategy proposes that in the Chiswick area, Chiswick House becomes the 'Borough Park'. Turnham Green, Chiswick Back Common and Stamford Brook Common would be classified as 'Key Parks', and all remaining parks would be 'Local Parks.' The Borough Park Will be the first priority, the Key Parks second and the remaining Local Parks the lowest priority. Maintenance resources would be allocated accordingly.

The friends of Harvard Hill Park and Dukes Meadows attended a public meeting on 9th of September organized at their request, by councillor Paul Lynch, to discuss the proposed strategy. Having heard what was said at the meeting the Friends remain concerned about the impact of the proposals on the "Local" parks which will see their maintenance cut. They are also concerned that of the parks prioritised only Chiswick Back Common and Stamford Brook have facilities for children and these are for very young children only. Both of these parks are north of the A4, far from the residents in Grove Park. Residents in Stamford Brook have the excellent children’s facilities in Ravenscourt Park, which are maintained by Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

CiP also revealed that a playground strategy would be forthcoming that would mirror the hierarchy of funding for the key parks. While this would mean the key parks would at some point have updated equipment, the impact on the non-Key parks is a serious concern to local groups.

While both friends' groups sympathise with CiP in trying to maintain open spaces on reduced budgets, they are not convinced that singling out one borough park and three other key parks is in the best interests of the borough (or of the children and families that live near 'Local' parks). The meeting agreed that the Council should be asked to arrange a further meeting of all the friends groups in the Borough before the proposal is adopted, to canvass opinion and try to find other ways of tackling the budget pressures on the parks. It was also concluded that the park strategy also should not be looked at alone - it needs to be reviewed with the playground strategy as well. Of primary concern to the friends groups is to see the needs of children and families made a greater priority in these strategies.

September 15, 2004