Local residents have reacted angrily to the news that some facilities in Gosfroth Central Park could swing towards being developed.
Plans have been revealed that would see a private group take over the tennis courts, which are currently free to use. Under the proposals there would be a charge to use them, with limited free sessions available.
A survey carried out by the East Gosforth Liberal Democrat Councillors has revealed huge opposition from the local residents against the scheme.
Sixty percent of those polled would only be in favour of the courts being developed if they remained free to use, with a further 25% against any change altogether. A massive 87% said they would not pay to use the courts.
Lib Dem Councillor Dominic Raymont said, "We are perplexed at this move. The council seems to be gradually washing its hands of Gosforth Central Park. We now have a "Friends" group that has done a lot of work to keep the park running over the past few years, and we are proud of our facilities, including the tennis courts and the basketball court. Under the plans the basketball court would go completely which is unacceptable."
The most striking result of the survey is the complete opposition to the removal of the basketball court with 93% saying the court should stay.
Cllr Raymont continued, "There is precious little for young people to do in the evenings and at weekends and the basketball court is a perfect opportunity for them to come together and play sport. Everyone really appreciates this asset to our park."
The tennis proposals are linked to a new café being built on land which is currently designated as a bowling green but not currently in use. Residents in the vicinity of the proposed café have concerns about parking issues and noise, especially as the proposals also include erecting floodlights at the tennis courts which is of great concern to those who live next to the park.
Councillor David Slesenger said, "People moved here because it is next to a nice quiet park. We are told the organisation is a "not for profit" but the council are planning to make money by allowing the courts to be monetised and a café to be built with no official public consultation. 81% of people in our survey do not want the café built with 89% believing it would add to the parking issues in the area."
Cllr Slesenger praised the work of the park volunteers, "The Friends of Gosforth Central Park have regular volunteer gardening sessions every Monday, and organise hugely successful "family fun day" events. They bring the whole community together. It is fantastic to see everyone enjoying the whole park and it would be awful to think there would restrictions on usage."
Fellow East Gosforth Councillor Henry Gallagher said, "The group putting forward the proposals did hold their own consultation event which was welcome, and a lot of people do feel the tennis courts in particular could do with improvement. I understand the group bringing forward the proposals have the best of intentions but I have to say I am disappointed that the council has not had any formal consultation with residents, especially as discussions have been going on for the last three years. It is especially annoying to see Gosforth Central Park having services cut and parts of the park singled out for development when the council has just spent millions upgrading Walker Park for example."
Councillor Dominic Raymont said, "The tennis courts are a vital community asset, used by many families, including my own! We have been trying to arrange a meeting between the Friends of Gosforth Central Park and the council's officers directly responsible for this. It is two months since the initial request and still no date for the meeting is forthcoming. We are concerned that there does not seem to have been any proper public consultation on these proposals and it appears another example of the council looking to put profit before people."
Councillor Pauline Allen (pictured above with Dom Raymont and Cllr Nick Cott from West Gosforth Ward) said "All the Gosforth wards have a stake in this park. Over the past few years we've added to the grants from East Gosforth and West Gosforth Wards to help the Friends of Gosforth Central Park step in to take up the slack resulting from the city Council's spending cuts. This has enabled Gosforth residents to help maintain this gem in Gosforth. We are quite opposed to the idea that bits of the park should be hived off after all this community effort."
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