The Lancashire Evening Post, Wednesday, 28th August 2002
The gates open on a new era for city parks By Sonja Karisen
PLANS to return Preston’s parks to their former glory are well underway.

Almost a year since the Evening Post launched it’s Make our Parks Safe Campaign, the city has already witnessed many changes.

The campaign was launched last September to rid the parks of their shameful image following a catalogue of assaults and attacks by perverts and knifemen which had left people too frightened to go to the parks alone.

Haslam Park
Preston's parks are looking good and there is more work to be done yet. Pictured: Haslam Park.

But a year’s tireless work by council bosses and a number of successful lottery bids and special grants have spruced up the city’s open spaces.

Preston Council is preparing to deploy its six new park rangers in the next few weeks to Moor Park, Aston Park, Haslam Park, Smith’s Recreation Ground and Ribbleton Park.

Plans for the much awaited project were finally given the go-ahead in February and will see the rangers the old fashioned bowling green and tennis court attendants.

Their tasks will include turning the parks from litter-strewn haunts for vandals and men looking for illicit encounters into safe environments for families.

And two bids amounting to almost £1 million are about to be submitted to restore Aveneham and Miller Parks.

Zones Funding has also been agreed for a new basketball area at Larches Phoenix Youth Club and new recreation zones at Frenchwood, Smith’s Recreation Ground and Ribbleton Park.

Another growing success story is the Fitter for the Future which has seen hundreds of children pass through its doors since its launch in April.

By working outdoors the scheme, which cost £106,000 through funding, has helped more than 400 youngsters learn about fruit, vegetables, soils and healthy lifestyles. The city’s allotment service was also recently voted the best in the country after being awarded the Acland Trophy by the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners in recognition of the excellent quality of services and facilities provided.

Councillor Veronica Afrin said: “It’s an on-going programme. We have got access to money now which we have never had before.

We are definitely on-target for achieving our aim of being the premier place for parks by 2006.

We are going to continue this drive to bring things up to standard, particularly within children’s parks and areas for young adults.

We are not going to stop now and we will use our own money and funding to do more year on year”.

Other Bids

£7,000 from the Environment Agency to spend on Haslam Park lake:

£650 from Bayor Animal Health to sponsor a poop scoop bin scheme – 12 new bins have been installed in several playing fields:

£15,000 from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund to spend on Ribbleton Park’s community garden:

£12,500 from the Town Centre Partnership for the Preston in Bloom Town Centre initiative:

Waiting to hear whether a £57,000 bid from the Department of Transport for a new cycle path in Ashton park has been successful.

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© The Lancashire Evening Post, August 2002