|The Lancashire Evening Post, Wednesday, 26th July 2006|
IT'S been described as "the jewel in Preston's crown".
But Winckley Square appears to have lost its sparkle.
Council bosses say they clean Winckley Square six days a week but ,when the Evening Post took a lunchtime visit to the city centre, we found the place strewn with litter.
Empty beer cans, bottles, carrier bags and takeaway wrappings were coupled with vandalised picnic tables and uprooted benches.
Gangs of youths and vagrants use the square as a meeting and drinking place.
A £1.5m refurbishment is in the pipeline which park users and businesses say needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Sisters Pat Cuerden, 69, and Sylvia Abbott, 76, were enjoying lunch with Sylvia’s grandson, Oliver Seers, five, but the area around them was in dire need of a clean-up.
Sylvia, who lives in Lea, Preston, said: “It’s in the middle of the city and they can’t even keep it decent. It’s a disgrace.
“The grass isn’t even cut properly. Anyone visiting will probably go home thinking what a dump.”
Pat, from Bamber Bridge,said: “It should be a pleasure to sit here but it looks lost, it’s been neglected.”
Retired Fred Iredale, 74, from Bamber Bridge, was eating his lunch before doing some shopping.
He said: “It’s in a state and there’s quite a lot of litter. It’s one of the poorest gardens I’ve come across.”
Student Melissa Askin, 21, who is working for Countrywide Residential Lettings on Winckley Street over the summer, said: “It desperately needs a good clean up but it’s not necessarily the council’s problem – it’s down to the people who use it.”
Winckley Square has seen a renaissance in recent years with offices being turned into apartments and sold for more than £300,000 for a two-bedroom flat.
Camilla Fisher, 48, who works at Rickson’s solicitors on Winckley Square, said: “There are new apartments here which cost a lot of money and it could be a lovely place to sit but there’s no way I would sit in the middle of the square in the evening.”
Coun Ken Cole, who represents the Town Centre ward, said: “It’s a lovely little green oasis but it is spoilt when you find half a dozen beer cans underneath a picnic table.”
The mess has upset one photographer who has spent time taking 119 pictures which appear on a dedicated picture gallery on flickr.com.
Nicola Turner, city vision manager at Preston Council, said the revamp of Winckley Square was on the council’s “prioritised action plan list” but funding was still being sought.
A spokesman for Preston Council said: “Our staff clean the square every weekday morning and on Saturdays, but it’s a constant battle to keep it tidy, especially at this time of year.”
To report litter or flytipping, contact the council's Litterline on 01772 906909 Post 26/07/2006
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|© The Lancashire Evening Post, July 2006|