Park path gets the go-ahead

A NEW easy access entrance to Ponteland Park will be constructed despite the need for it being questioned.

The town council came up with plans for a meandering path from West Road into the park to reduce the impact of the slope on people in wheelchairs and those with pushchairs.

But when discussing which contractor option to go for, some members raised the correspondence from Friends of Ponteland Park (FOPP) which said that the lack of car parking facilities nearby may put off these people from using it and they will still go to another easy access location.

The group also has concerns about how suitable the path would be for wheelchairs and pushchairs and the effect it could have on trees in the area.

Following a debate, the majority of councillors agreed to proceed with the £6,700 project.

Coun Robin Ramsay said the authority had looked into putting the path next to the existing West Road entrance but this was not feasible.

“This facility will provide wheelchair users living nearby and parents and grandparents with prams who can’t go down Fox Covert Lane with a much better access to the park,” he added.

A number of daffodils planted by FOPP will be transplanted in another area of the park as they are in the way of the path.

The project had originally been proposed by North ward councillors.

But one of the group, Alan Mee, said: “This is a super design for the meandering path, but after speaking to FOPP members, their point that the lack of a car parking facility would prevent some people from using it has put a doubt in my mind.

“Those who are driving or being driven will probably go to the Memorial Hall car park and use the easy access point there so I’m not sure about the numbers that would use the new entrance.”

And fellow North ward member David Butler said: “This point brings up the question, do we need another disabled access point for the park?”

But Coun Ramsay said: “It had not been envisaged at any time that a car park would form part of the proposals.

“This project was agreed in the budget process and it would send out a worrying message if we were seen to change our minds on something that is already part of the programme.”

The councillors voted for the option to use gravel with a fine surface for the path.

In a letter to Ponteland Mayor Peter Cowey, FOPP Chairman Margaret Stainsby said: “From my own experience, this is not a part of the West Road where I would encourage people to walk, particularly wheelchair and pram users, as the pavement is very narrow (four feet) and most of the traffic leaving Ponteland in this area is beginning to accelerate above the 30mph limit.

“To cross the road with a wheelchair on the four foot pavement would be quite a problem, i.e. to manoeuvre the chair at right angles to the kerb considering the depth of the chair and then to have sufficient space at the rear of the chair for the handler to push it over the road.

“At the rear of the site, there are five splendid lime trees.”

The letter added: “From the plan it is difficult to assess the effect that the path will have on the trees as far as root cutting/disturbance is concerned.

“But it looks as though they will certainly be kept short of rain water, which is very worrying.”