Park makes a whole bunch of new friends

A NEW forum to preserve grass-roots involvement in Morpeth’s Carlisle Park is up and running.

The group has been set up by park staff to ensure community links continue with the facility following the closure of its ‘friends’ organisation in February.

Twelve people attended the first meeting of the forum last month to hear of the development plans for the park and its activities, and put forward their own ideas.

Most signed up for a newsletter to keep them updated and all were invited to take part in voluntary sessions with gardeners to help maintain the park as the ‘jewel in Morpeth’s crown’.

Northumberland County Council Green Spaces Officer Emma Evans, who is responsible for the facility, said: “The forum went very well.

“There was a mix of people who came along, from people who were in the friends group to others who have never been involved in the park before.

“I explained that the idea of the forum was to keep the community involvement in the park since the friends closed down and talked about the park programme for the next few years, as well as red squirrel conservation, events and future forums, and people asked questions about their own concerns.

“There were questions about reed beds, the putting greens, benches, litter and bird feeders.

“The intention is that people can see what is planned and get more information about the park and we are keen for people to sign up for the mailing list to get involved.

“I’m hoping to do some park surveys at events such as Picnic In The Park to get more people signed up and find out what they want.”

Those attending the forum raised a wide range of issues relating to the park.

Suggestions included the possibility of installing a water filtering system using reed beds where the Postern Burn enters the park, but officials said it would require a large settling pool to make any improvement in the water quality.

However, it will be revisited in the future as the burn does suffer from surface water run-off and connections from wrongly plumbed washing machines and toilets in High Church.

Another proposal was for volunteer litter picks to take place where the rubbish would be separated so that cans could be sold to raise money for projects.

More investigation of the idea is needed, but it will be followed up by the Greater Morpeth Development Trust.

One resident suggested putting bird feeders in the park, but was told that staff do not have the time to stock, clean and maintain them so a voluntary scheme will be looked at.

The forum heard that crazy golf company Putting It Around will operate from the flat section of the putting green near the skate park from April, using a portable set up, and that four new benches had been installed by Morpeth Town Council in the play area, with a small children’s picnic table to be added by the summer. Additional picnic table sites will be investigated, as well as the possibility of putting in extra bins.

Work will start this month to remove heather beds from the war memorial, with some of the heather relocated to provide nectar for insects, and seats behind the hedge to the west of the memorial may be re-sited following a request.

Forthcoming events planned for the park include battle re-enactments, an orienteering competition, guided walk and performances as part of the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering from April 13 to 15, Northumbria In Bloom and Britain In Bloom volunteer sessions, clean-up days and judging in April, July and August, Green Flag sessions and judging in May or June, the lighting of a beacon at Ha’Hill for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on June 4, Fair Day activities on June 10 and the Picnic In The Park on July 28 and 29.

Meanwhile, volunteers will be able to work with gardeners on the last Tuesday of each month to keep the park in tip-top condition.

The work will include a tidy-up of the William Turner Garden, stripping flower beds, clipping the Knot Garden and tidying the herbaceous borders.

All sessions will run from 10am to noon and tools and refreshments will be provided.

Volunteers should meet at the park office next to the William Turner Garden and wear suitable outdoor clothing.

Ms Evans said: “It is extremely important that we have local people and regular visitors involved in the running of the park.

“We want to make it a place that is enjoyed by all and only with the ideas of users can we develop it and make it even more special.

“We welcome ideas on activities, events and practical maintenance, but also on future policy and management issues.”

She added: “The forum is intended to allow people to get involved without making the commitment to being on a committee. It is open to everyone and no one is obliged to come to every meeting.”

Carlisle Park is owned by the county council and managed by the authority along with Morpeth Town Council and Leisure Connections.

For more information, to join the forum or to sign up for the newsletter, call 01670 535203 or email carlislepark@northumberland.gov.uk