Locked park could be re-opened for public and school
- Credit: Archant
A Weston park which has been closed to the public due to antisocial behaviour could be re-opened to the public and used for community events.
Ellenborough Park West is owned by Clifton Diocese and was used by Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School as a playing field and sports area.
The church closed the park after needles were discovered at the site and it has remained locked ever since.
The diocese has asked Weston Town Council if it would consider taking over and maintaining the park at a peppercorn rent, to enable it to be opened up to the school and public.
Town clerk Malcolm Nicholson, in a report to the authority's policy and finance committee meeting, said: "Corpus Christi Primary School is no longer permitted by the Clifton Diocese to use the west park regularly as a playing field for health and safety reasons due to encounters with rough sleepers who have been abusive and the number of spent syringes and needles found in the park.
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"Until a longer term solution can be found it is therefore locked and now generally inaccessible.
"This seems unsatisfactory from everybody's point of view and means both the school and local community are unable to use it."
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The town council owns and manages Ellenborough Park East and the diocese has asked the authority whether it will consider taking over and managing west park as well.
Maintenance would involve grass cutting, litter picking and tree maintenance and a tree survey would also need to be carried out.
The park is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and the council would need to investigate the restrictions this might impose on the usage.
Cllr Robert Payne said: "I'm extremely keen on this proposal.
"West park could be a really good asset for the town and community as an event space and public park.
"It's hard to see another way a new park could be created.
"At the moment it's sadly a wasted asset - closed and locked up all the time.
"If we can reclaim it for the community it would really improve the area for people who live round there."
Town councillors agreed to engage in further discussions with the diocese.