Members of Wyndham Park Forum have expressed their anger after it was revealed the park ranger’s hours have changed – which they believe will leave the park open to crime and vandalism.
Forum chairman John Knowles said he was “steaming” after hearing the news and demanded to know why the Forum had not been informed earlier. “We had to find out by the back door,” he said.
Until this month the park ranger worked between the hours of 5pm and dusk, but now his hours have been moved back so he will finish by 5pm.
Forum members fear this will mean that areas of the park will have to be locked by 5pm so that members of the public will be unable to use them in the light evenings throughout spring and summer. They fear the paddling pool may have to be emptied early and the gates to the skate park locked at 5pm.
Mr Knowles said: “After all the work we put in on a voluntary basis and nobody came to talk to us.”
A security company, OCS has been employed to work in the park but already the Forum has complained about them because the gate on the bridge across the River Witham at the bottom of Redcross Street either has not been locked or hasn’t been locked until 10.30pm on some nights.
The gate was originally put there to stop anti-social behaviour and prevent criminal damage and had proven successful.
The Forum was also told that the children’s playground in the park had not been locked up except in the previous two days and it was feared the same could happen with the skate park when it is reopened.
The change in the ranger’s hours coincides with the appointment of a new grounds maintenance company to look after the park from March 1. Glendale has been taken on to look after the parks and green spaces in South Kesteven with a four-year £900,000 contract.
South Kesteven District Council’s property development manager, Neil Cucksey, said: “We’re keen to work proactively with Glendale to ensure the district’s parks and open spaces are suitably maintained to a good standard including retaining the Green Flag awarded to Wyndham Park.
“Its experience of working with local authorities across the country means Glendale understands the high standards our tenants and residents come to expect of our parks and open spaces.
“This new grounds maintenance contract will see its knowledge and expertise shared to the benefit of communities across South Kesteven.”
The Forum has put together a list of the duties of the park ranger between 5pm and dusk and the likely consequences of the withdrawal of the evening hours.
It says: “Without the park ranger, the play facilities would be unsupervised if kept unlocked and could lead to vandalism and misuse, as well as accidents being unreported. In view of the substantial investment about to be made in the park it is essential that the service providedby the park ranger is maintained in the evening.
“If the facilities were locked as the park keeper goes off duty at 5pm, there would be considerable disappointment from park users particularly during the warmer summer evenings. The paddling pool would have to be closed at 4pm every day.”
Coun Bob Adams, SKDC portfolio holder for arts and leisure, will put the Foum’s grievances to the district council .
Earlier this year the Forum and SKDC were awarded an intial grant of £117,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to draw up plans for the development of the park. If they are successful with their second bid they will be awarded a further grant to give them a total of £875,900 to restore the park to its former glory as a First World War memorial park. The park won Green Flag status in 2012 and has just retained its status.