June 2013 ....

FAIR PLAY!

During June, the Friends of Eastfield Park received more complaints and concerns about the park than in any previous month - possibly more than in the whole of the period since its formation over six years ago! Most, but not all, of the complaints related to Evan's funfair on the park from 21st to 30th June and most of them were made before the fair actually opened to the public.

Funfair-comp

Evans Funfair on Eastfield Park Sports Zone

Public concerns related to three main areas: Firstly, the unsuitability of the park as a venue for an event of this kind, including possible damage to the park surface (particularly bearing in mind how vulnerable it is when wet), difficulty of access to the park (especially by the very large vehicles used for the fair), possible damage to wildlife and interference with other on-going activities such as dog-walking. Secondly, there were concerns about the potential nuisance to local residents, including inconsiderate parking by visitors to the fair, noise pollution and the possibility of the fair attracting anti-social behaviour in the area. Residents were particularly annoyed, however, about the nature of the decision making process, the lack of consultation or advanced warning about the fair and the fact that the ERA, LRA, FoEP, & local councillors were all unaware of fair until the Thursday preceding the arrival of the fair on the park.

The situation was discussed at FoEP and ERA meetings and it appeared that people were less unhappy about the fair after it had been operating for a few days. However, a few residents continued to complain about noise and inconsiderate parking. We found the fairground operators to be very approachable and willing to discuss issues. The fair shut down promptly in the evenings and their staff collected litter from the immediate surroundings. Despite the wet weather, the park surface at that end of the park (on the football pitches) remained firm and, to date, we have not received reports of excessive damage to the park or anti-social behaviour.

The FoEP is not opposed, in principle, to a having a fun fair located on Eastfield Park. In fact, we would like to see the park used for a greater range of events and activities. However, we do feel that we, along with local residents associations should have been consulted well in advance of the fair taking place. The question of access to the park was not considered carefully enough and some issues remain to be resolved should another fair be held on the park.

Other complains received during the month related to the poor upkeep of the park by Enterprise on behalf of NBC: grass poorly cut, litter not collected, dog bins not emptied. The FoEP will be monitoring these issues over the next few months and taking up the issue of park management with the relevant authorities.

OTHER NEWS

Northampton Borough Council has set up an Overview & Scrutiny Panel, chaired by Elizabeth Gowen, to look at ways of improving the town's parks. The Chairs of Friends of Abington Park, West Hunsbury Parks, Delapre Abbey and The Racecourse have all been co-opted onto the panel. Unfortunately, the Chair of Friends of Eastfield Park has not been invited to join although he has been assured that he will be invited to submit evidence to the panel.

Northampton Borough Council has also recently refreshed its Parks and Open Spaces Strategy. There is now a commitment to set up park managements committees for Abington Park, Delapre Abbey and the Racecourse and for any other parks in the town where there is evidence of strong community support. We sincerely hope that Eastfield Park is included in the last mentioned category!

The classification of parks in the refreshed (2013) strategy is essentially the same as in the original (2009) strategy: Beckets Park & Delapre Park are 'Strategic Parks', Abington Park & the Racecourse are 'Premier Parks', Upton Park, Brackmills Park, Bradlaugh Fields, Hunsbury Hill & Penn Valley Park are all 'Country Parks' while the remaining parks, including Eastfield, Dallington and Thornton are 'Neighbourhood Parks and Gardens'. In view of this, it does seem rather strange that NBC documents often refer to Northampton's three premier parks. It is perhaps even stranger that the Neighbourhood Parks and Gardens are not represented on the Scrutiny Panel whereas both Premier Parks are.

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