Locals bid to preserve their 'beautiful' Beechwood Park
2:20pm Thursday 22nd May 2014 in News
RESIDENTS have clubbed together to preserve beautiful Beechwood Park, after warnings it could lose funding in years to come.
More than 80 people turned out for a public meeting held at the manor house in the city centre park to talk about how to bring the grounds to their former glory.
Although Beechwood Park, one of two ornamental parks in Newport, is popular with dog walkers, teenagers and families, some warn it could fall into disrepair and that parts of it are due regeneration.
Those at the meeting agreed to set up a group to promote the park and try to secure funding from grant bodies such as Heritage Lottery.
Kevin O'Shea, who lives next to the park on Christchurch Road, led the meeting.
"Unfortunately, it has been neglected for years for various reasons," he said.
"We wanted to find a way we can all work together in a way that will give us a beautiful park to work in, walk in, talk in and just enjoy being with people in.
"We want to maintain the structure of the park, but bring it into the the Twenty-first Century."
Mike McGow, who manages park services with Newport City Council, reassured residents there were no current plans to cut funding more than it had already been reduced.
He said this year parks in Newport lost £100,000. with a number of staff laid off. "We will continue to maintain the park, but if you need to improve that further you need to seek external funding."
Beechwood councillor Paul Hannon listed out some ideas for regeneration, saying people had raised concerns with him about "the disused toilet block, which has been used for drug use and stuff like that.
He added that promotion was needed: "I have heard the paddling pool talked of.
We have tennis courts which are unused at the moment.
"Somewhere in the park where people could let their dogs of the lead and let them have a run around."
John Hallam, who helped lead a regeneration project in nearby Woodland Park, warned the meeting that there were no guarantees public funding would continue in future years: "This could well become derelict as a park in ten years time."
He said the east of Newport in general had done badly from lottery funding, with more projects realised in the west.
But he estimated Beechwood Park could attract its share, with an aim of £30,000 secured in the first year moving up to £100,000 the next and a continued year on-year increase.
Community groups were able to access grant money the council could not, he said.
Beechwood councillor Deb Davies assured residents this was not a plan to transfer responsibility for the park away from the council; "It will be in partnership with the council - as well as.
not instead of."
The new group plans to meet within the next month to discuss plans for the park's future.
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