Wednesday, March 05, 2014

My final Newsham Park Forum meeting

Last night I chaired my final Newsham Park Forum; the next one won't be until June when I will no longer be a councillor.

People were very kind and generous with their parting words and I was delighted with a lovely card. There were lots of hugs and wishes of good fortune on all sides.

It got me thinking about what we have actually achieved over the last 8 years

I started by reflecting back to April 2006 before my first election when I planted roses with the Friends of Newsham Park This was my first real exposure to the park and it was quite a sorry place really, unloved, dirty, broken and crime ridden.

Later that year, after my election, I became chair of the council's Parks and Lakes Scrutiny Panel and we took a tour of Newsham Park with residents, police, gardeners, fishermen and others as part of our work We created a long wish list of work and improvements we all wanted to see. We had learned that our HLF bid was unsuccessful so we worked hard to find alternative ways to fund them.

And now here we are, 8 years on, with the most incredible list of achievements.

A pavilion and changing rooms for new football pitches
A kiosk selling refreshments - and acting as a key information point for the park with the excellent Rob on duty
Youth play equipment
Exercise equipment
Tree planting
Cricket wicket and a great local cricket club
Ping-pong table
Boating lake renewed
Return of the Liverpool Model Boating Club
Platforms in the lakes for the ducks and water birds
Wildflower planting in Denham Gardens
Picnic tables
Signage welcoming people to the park
Renewal of entrance gate posts
The birthday wood

There will be other improvements and enhancements I have forgotten...

And people are using the park for their leisure so much more often now too. Newsham Park Arts Festival, Shakespeare in the Park, Spring Fling, Sports Festival, Bonfire night firework events...

And it hasn't finished there; we took lots of progress reports last night including plans for a skateboard and BMX facility, a new Multi Use Games Area (MUGA), a new fountain and aerators in the lake nearly ready to be installed, the bicycle health project hopefully ready by Whitsun half term and upcoming events in the park being prepared (including one which will truly put the Park on the map!!).

I want to pay tribute to so many people for their help and support; the Forum epitomises the best of partnership working; Paul, Derek, Nigel and Tom from the council who have driven through and delivered on residents aspirations; the Friends of Newsham Park through its various incarnations; Pamela and Mark Boardman for spearheading so many of the residents groups; JB for never ceasing to push for change; Richard Milligan for his wonderful work on Wildlife Photography and the group determined to save our water birds; the Model Boat Club who have returned from Walton Hall Park to their original home and who celebrate their 50th anniversary this year; Glendale the gardeners; Academy of St Francis of Assisi for their enduring enthusiasm and hard work; Norah Burns and other residents for continuing to demand the best from their representatives; all the councillors who have represented the park for putting in funds from locally held budgets and recognising the value of the park; Christina and Althea and their volunteers who have picked litter, planted bulbs, painted railings and shown the true nature of people power; Steve and the group determined to see the Orphanage brought back into use; all the sportsmen and women who now play or train in the park; Citysafe for patrolling; Rob in the kiosk for acting as our unofficial Parky;

I am sure I have missed people from the list but that only goes to show just how many are involved.

There is always talk of legacy at the end of a political time in office and I like to think this granddaughter of a Corporation Gardener has helped to steer and guide some real improvements in a park I am sure he would have admired.

Good luck to whoever takes this work forward and don't ever let the lack of funding stop you from aiming as high as possible.