PLANS to regenerate Beechwood Park are gaining momentum and engaging young people will be vital if the park is to reach its former glory, one of the people leading the drive had said.

Kevin O’Shea, part of a group hoping to bring in grant funds to improve the park, said anti-social behaviour had been a challenge in the past but could be overcome.

“The vision is to get the whole community, young, middle aged and elderly on board,” Mr O’Shea said.

“A few weeks ago I saw some boys setting fire to a tree. I said to one of them, ‘Why are you setting fire to a beautiful tree in the middle of a park, what’s the point?’ He stopped what he was doing and said, ‘It’s just something to do.’ Do something better with your life!"

Many council-run facilities face uncertain futures, Mr O’Shea said, as budgets are tightened.

He added: “What if we lost Beechwood Park? Not that it’s going to happen, but think of all that would be lost.

“I’m passionate about it. We can make it something Newport can be proud of.”

He pointed to the example of Belle Vue Park, which had secured significant funding while Beechwood had been passed over.

Big plans to improve the park include possibly reopening the paddling pool, installing an adventure playground and upgrading the tennis courts, as well holding as a fun day and a “Try Golf” day.

An open day held last Saturday was a success, Mr O’Shea said: “We received 45 completed questionnaires with 16 people offering to join. A pretty good success ratio I think - considering the weather conditions. We also distributed a further 28 that have yet to be completed and returned. Councillor and Mrs Truman took a number to be distributed in their ward and I have approximately 80 that I will be distributing in the area around the park as well as a number left at the café.

“All in all it was a very satisfactory outcome that has provided us with a lot of interesting intelligence that will be collated and documented prior to our next meeting.”

The next meeting to discuss ways to ensure the park’s future and ways to improve it will be held on September 11. Email for information.