This is just one of the ideas designed to make the park a more vibrant place. The park is only four hectares in size, but it has become increasingly popular and works closely with the community.
The staff includes an urban park ranger, Chris Horsfall, whose job is to look after the park and make it more accessible.
He runs the Junior Ranger Scheme aimed at children aged between five and 12. Every Tuesday throughout the summer holidays, 25 children (the course is always oversubscribed) come to find out about the park. "We want to get people involved and to understand about the park. For many of these children, it’s their first contact with nature," Horsfall says.
Some of the days are led by the rangers. In other cases the instruction is given by outside experts, who can talk about the wildlife of the park. "We recently had a talk by the Croston Beekeepers," says Horsfall. "It’s good when you get outsiders because they have a different perspective and different expertise."
The park is split into zones to encourage a range of activities. There are three play areas — one for ages five to eight, one for ages nine to 12 and one for teens. The teen area features a multi-use surface that can be used as a skate park or basketball court. The council estimates that it has spent £1.1m on developments in the park over the past seven years.
There is an informal zone — effectively a wildlife area — with a wildflower meadow and a woodland walk. "We get a lot of educational visits to this area from local schools and scout groups," says Horsfall. And the park hosts a variety of events. On Saturdays there are pop and jazz bands. On Sundays there are traditional bands, such as brass bands. There are also festivals put on by community organisations, church groups, hospitals and local businesses. Almost all the events run at the park are free.
The council is very proud of its consultation process. The friends group, which has 83 members, is encouraged to give its views. In addition, there are formal consultations: every two years the
council sends surveys to 5,000 homes adjoining the park. It also surveys users at the big events. "We take a lot of notice of this sort of feedback," says Horsfall. He points out that the surveys led to work around the duck pond, where a fountain was installed to improve the water quality. It also led to new signage at the entrance of the park. "The park was rather obscured by the entrance to a supermarket. So we had a large ironwork sign made," explains Horsfall. "We do respond to what people want and we are prepared to spend money to get results."
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