Respect Our Parks
Newcastle parks have seen record visitor numbers during the coronavirus lockdown, but increased numbers have also led to a “small minority” causing vandalism and littering, says the head of the city’s park service.
“People have been largely respectful of the restrictions in place and social distancing requirements. Feedback we’ve received to date confirms that our users have been very happy with how our parks have been managed during this difficult time,” says James Cross, CEO of Urban Green, which manages city parks and allotments.
“A small minority of people have caused some isolated issues such as littering and vandalism,” he said. “It’s been awful … We’ve really suffered across all of our parks … lots of litter … It’s really upsetting to see.”
Locally, Elswick Park has been hit, with both Elswick Pool and Edible Elswick reporting vandalism. At Nun’s Moor Park, visitors have reported a surge in litter, with many critical of a recent reduction in litter bins there. Havannah Nature Reserve at Hazelrigg experienced a number of fires, with trees being used as fuel.
“We’ve worked closely with police to identify problems and moved quickly to rectify any damage, to ensure our spaces remain safe for users at all times,” said Mr Cross.
He urged to people report emergency incidents to 999, use 101for non-emergency incidents and to report other issues directly to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
“While it’s been a challenging few months, with unprecedented demand across all our green spaces, Urban Green Newcastle is proud to have been able to support the residents of Newcastle throughout this time, helping to connect them to nature, and to help improve the health and wellbeing of all families and our communities.
“Many of our regular activities, such as bin collections and grass cutting are all now back up and running, with some increased litter collections. Like many organisations, much of our planned activity had to be put on hold, but over the next few weeks and months we will be reopening facilities and caring for our parks and allotments as government restrictions allow.
“For example, we are reintroducing our maintenance programmes and carrying out critical capital works for our trees and play areas to ensure that our spaces remain safe for all park users.
“We have enabled limited volunteering to start back up again on our sites. The reduced numbers of volunteers reflects Government’s current guidance, which only allows groups of up to six people from different households to meet in outdoor spaces. Within the next few weeks we will also be widening our volunteer programme particularly to help with increased litter picking.”
Keep an eye on the Friends of Nuns Moor Park Facebook page over the next few weeks for information of how to get involved in caring for the park as the lockdown is eased. The group is run by local residents and has played a major part in keeping the park in good condition in recent years.