Support grows for 'Protect Our Parks' campaign

November 02 2015

A CAMPAIGN to bring Downend's main sports pitches under local control has taken a step forward.


A CAMPAIGN to bring Downend's main sports pitches under local control has taken a step forward.
Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council is set to express an interest in taking over the management and maintenance of the  playing fields at King George V and Badminton Road and at Bromley Heath.
This follows a public meeting on October 29 where councillors explained that South Gloucestershire Council cannot afford to look after the pitches from April 2016. If  no one takes on the management, the fields will no longer be maintained and other facilities, such as the pavilions, will have to close.
Parish council chairman Graeme Riley said it would be necessary to raise the parish precept to fund taking over the pitches – but he said this would probably have to go up anyway to cover the cost of providing other services.
The amount of the increase is not yet known but councillors and residents at the meeting heard that the Downend precept was much lower than other parish councils of a similar size.
Mary Lewis, on behalf of the Friends of King George V and Badminton Road, said none of the individual teams that used the fields could take on the management on their own.
“How on earth are they going to find £26,000 a year? It is not going to happen,” she said. “I am here to ask the parish council to look at taking on the leasing, otherwise football pitches will disappear; cricket pitches will disappear. We will have none of these competitive sports for our young people. That is a disaster. If we lose this, we lose it for the whole of our community.”
Victoria Veasey, from the We Love Bromley Heath Park Friends group, where maintenance costs are estimated at £6,765, said taking on the parks would be a major extra responsibility for the parish council that should be acknowledged.
The parish council will express an interest so it can find out more about what is involved in taking on the parks and will make a final decision at either its December or January meeting.
South Gloucestershire Council wants to hand over control of a total of nine parks to save £145,000 a year. It has asked for expressions of interest by November 30.
Groups taking on the parks will be able to either buy back grass cutting and other services from South Gloucestershire or employ their own contractors. They will also be able to raise income from letting out the pitches and other facilities such as the pavilions.
Both Friends groups are urging people to sign their petition to show the strength of support for protecting the parks. They will have a stand at the Downend Round Table fireworks event on Friday November 6 and at Christmas in Downend on November 27.
The petition can be found online at https://www.change.org/p/downend-bromley-heath-parish-council-in-support-of-a-rise-in-dbh-parish-council-precept-in-order-to-maintain-our-parks?recruiter=39956839&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive