Action by residents and the Council has turned Bingfield Park from an urban hellhole to a pleasant green space. But simple lack of maintenance risks it returning to its former state. In 2002 and for years prior to that the park was regularly home to burned-out cars, stolen scooters, sex worker and drug detritus, the occasional encampment, broken glass, stone throwing children and in particular stolen moped races. It is hard to overstate how bad the park was. Resident led action with support from our local councillors led to over £0.5million of mainly S106 money being pumped into a complete redesign and landscaping of the park.
Bingfield became a pleasant urban green space that people were no longer afraid to use. But if the council doesn't keep up the maintenance the park quickly slips back into its former state. If the park is unmaintained and becomes dangerous people won't go there, it becomes unmonitored and a home to lawlessness again. Cllr Paul Convery has noticed that standards are slipping. I paste in his email below and some of his photos. Council Officers are now on the case and have redressed some of the worst points – their reply is below too. Thanks to Paul for being vigilant. The big question though is where were the Council's 'Park Rangers' – it's their job to wander the parks, keep and eye on things and get stuff fixed. The dog poo problem isn't getting any better either.
Paul Convery email to Council officer:
>Parts of Bingfield Park are begining to look distinctly run-down. There is damage and detritus mainly caused by anti social behaviour which, if not corrected, will result in the park sliding towards dereliction. With a small child leading the way (you see the world very differently through a 2 year old's eyes) I walked the eastern perimeter of the park this morning and spotted many serious problems.
Please see the attached pictures which illustrate:
a) you will know that the wall blocks (I think they are called somethign like "gambions" although that sounds like one of my favourate actors) have been progressively damaged and then temporarily fixed using bits of twisted wire. That's all been undone now leaving holes once more and missing rocks (actually they are strewn around the park). These need to be thoroughly repaired.
b) the drainage ditch covers along the entire run of the eastern side of the park are now gone (the last were removed just in the recent days). This exposes a dangerous trench about 25cms deep and about 15 cms wide. Just about perfect dimensions for a small child to slip into and break a leg … not least because part of the trench is now filled with leaves which give the appearance of being filled/soild. These need to be replaced.
c) The fencing adjacent to Crumbles Castle has two leg-up devices attached (a heavy duty motor cycle lock and a U-type bicycle lock). These are used by young men to get over the fence into Crumbles Castle in order to retrieve stashed drugs (when you sit in the Park with a small child, you would be surprised at just how brazen these lads can be). I am addressing this with the local police team but in the meantime, please could your maintenance people attend with heavy cutters and remove these leg-up devices.
d) There is a nasty melt-down mess of stuff stuck to the surface of the play pitch where somethign has been burnt. This needs to be scraped-off.
FInally, the play pitch and the eastern walkways need to be thoroughly cleaned to remove all manner of detritus. There are shards of broken glass at a density of roughly 8-9 fragments per square metre across the entire surface of the play pitch (much denser close to the eastern edge). There are rocks and stones in many places and there is a great deal of litter. Admitedly the park is cleaned periodically without which there would be a dreadful build-up mainly of cans and bottles. But it needs a much more thorough clean to make safe – especially for sports play on the pitch.
>We have been experiencing anti-social behaviour issues in Bingfield for some
time now and have been working closely with our Parks Patrol and the
Caledonian SNT [police] to try and deal with the problem. The SNT have been very
supportive and we have carried out a number of joint patrols with the Park
Patrol over the last couple of months. While this focused action has had a
positive effect on the anti social behaviour levels, there are still
problems occurring and we need to continue to address these.
With regards to the specific issues you have raised, below is a summary of
the actions we are taking to ensure that park remains in a good state of
a) The wire mesh around the gabion wall has now been repaired. We are aware
that the wire mesh is easily cut and we are looking into various long term
solutions to the problem. I will keep you updated on proposed solution and
the time frame for the works.
b) The drainage covers have been removed by people who have used them for
weapons. We are meeting with a specialist drainage cover supplier on
Wednesday to find a suitable replacement that we are able to secure
effectively to ensure that they cannot be removed in the future.
c) The chains and bike locks have been removed from the fencing next to the
d) We have scrapped off as much of the melted material as possible and I
will have the remaining material removed when we carry out the repairs to
the damaged surface.
e) The park received a thorough clean today and all surfaces were well swept
and any glass and detritus removed. We will continue to keep a close eye on
the site and carry out regular deep cleans as required.
I will keep you both informed on any developments that take place on the
site. I hope I was able to address the points you have raised but if you
have any further questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.