Revivify Manor Park Phase 1 – Frequently Asked Questions (Revised – 22/09)
Q: Why not let the Park stay as it is?
A: There are many good things about the park as it is that we know and love. But in a recent survey many suggested that things could be better. And, environmental experts have advised that certain ways of managing the park could improve the habitat for a greater range of wildlife. The vision is for a place where people will want to and are physically able to spend longer periods of time.
- At present the park does not offer the accessible facilities that other parks offer, including toilets, café and accessible play equipment. And, at the moment, it is failing to meet the requirements of the Equalities Act.
- Encouraging healthy outdoor activity and quality sports facilities encourages a more active society and helps people maintain a healthy weight. It’s recommended that children aged 1-5 have at least two hours of physical exercise a day and older children have at least one hour of physical activity a day. Where better to make the ten thousand steps target than the park? Gardening, watching wildlife and community activity are also proven to have positive benefits for mental health, including dementia.
Q: The Park committee seems to have decided already what it wants to do. Why aren’t we getting a say in this?
A: The Park Committee has suggested some ideas based on the comments made by a number of local residents in an initial survey, combined with advice from environmental experts- but these ideas are not set in stone. The intention is for this project to be something that the community wants and makes the decisions on, with help to make it happen facilitated by members of the Committee.
Q: Why isn’t Kingston Council funding all this?
- A: Kingston Council has earmarked some funding for FY19-20 to help this project but, it is a condition of most public funding now to see evidence of community support and engagement, including “match funding”. Council funds are limited and targeted at areas of most need- and the Council no longer receives money direct from central Government (all KBC funds are now from Council Tax and a Greater London Pool of business rates). A great proportion of this funding is directed at “social care”.
- For this project, The Mayor of London needs to see that local commitment is there, whether you can spare £1 or £100. If people don’t pledge now, the project will lose the chance to unlock more funding from the Council and other benefactors for environmental and heritage education projects and hands-on learning about local wildlife and habitats, as well as safe and clean sports facilities for all the current users of the park, from tennis and cricket to Little League football.
Q: why the need to raise money for an expensive survey? This seems to be a waste of money?
A: Government, Lottery and other major donors need to see thorough evidence before they donate more money to a project, to ensure it is sustainable and deliverable. £29k is not all for the cost of the report but for different elements of the project.
- This can seem to be time consuming, expensive and over complicated red tape, however this phase of the project is recommended by experienced fundraisers who are providing advice to help ensure a successful first stage bid. For example, bids for lottery money require a first stage project plan as a matter of course, and the costs of this bid are similar to those for a first stage bid to the National Lottery.
- This is part of a longer-term four year vision for the park- better facilities, better signage, wheelchair friendly access, as well as improved play and sports facilities. If the plan is professionally presented with clear evidence and costings, it stands to be more successful in attracting wider support.
Q: The young children we take to the park have no complaints- why are people trying to turn it into an adventure playground?
- A: There are no plans to turn the existing playground into something resembling Chessington World of Adventures.
- Many people reported in the recent survey that they would like to see a more modern range of equipment. A lot of modern play equipment can be really imaginative and user friendly. Some of the 40 year old tired and tatty equipment in the park, in many cases, is simply no longer fit for purpose. There are no plans for children to take over the park, simply to make it more accessible, up to date and user friendly.
- The recent survey suggested that many local residents with children don’t have gardens to play in, and many feel almost forced to use other parks with a wider range of facilities, when younger children have outgrown the toddler play area.
- In Sutton Borough, Cheam Park has a new thriving café and the playground has a zipwire for 5-12’s, climbing wall and imaginative equipment. Epsom and Ewell BC have funded improvements to Auriol Park, which also has a new café- which is expanding due to demand.
- Having similar or equivalent facilities in Manor Park would be less stressful for travelling for local residents, cut down on local traffic and help make it a more positive experience to take visiting friends and families.
Q Why is there a need for all this habitat management?
A: As the park exists, it is a wonderful green space with lots of resources for wildlife and people.
- However, all man-made public green spaces need some management and this is no exception. There are many views about how much or how little is needed to encourage wider wildlife diversity. One example which has been mentioned is brambles, which are an important food resource for birds and small mammals. Some management is needed to once the blackberries have gone, to ensure healthy growth next year, and also that paths are clear for park users.
Q: I’m worried about using the park in the evenings because it doesn’t feel safe. Are the police going to support these plans?
A: The Committee is in discussion with the local police about ways to discourage and manage crime and anti-social behaviour. Some of the suggested improvements are intended to make the park feel safer, encouraging respectful behaviour of all users and increasing visibility.
Q: What can I do now?
If you share the vision for a safe, fun and accessible park where people can walk their dog, play with children and grandchildren on engaging and stimulating equipment, play sports or just relax- make a pledge to support this project and offer a comment of support. Tell your friends and family, anyone who uses the park, used to live nearby or would like to use it “if only.”
BUT The project needs your support and needs it now. All across the country public parks are failing to thrive from lack of funding and community involvement in their wellbeing. If the park does not have clear support from the local community users, there is always a risk that this wonderful resource could be lost for development.