Are there local parks near where you live that you would like to use, but don’t for some reason?
What is it that stops you? Tell us in the discussion below.
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I live quite close to Shepherds Bush Green and it's great to have a green space in a busy area. However, it's not a nice place to relax for a couple of reasons, drinkers taking over the benches, people not clearing up after their dogs and the Council allowing funfair or circus to take over a great part of the green space. It could be a relaxing place to sit and read a book but it's not for me
I would be surprised if there was a single park in London which feels safe at night. More must be done to improve security and safety for the public to freely use parks after dark.
Thanks for your comment.
Can you tell us what it is about the park that makes you feel unsafe, and what you think might help make it safer too?
Regular reports of serious crimes occurring in London's parks (rape, assault, robbery, stabbings), and volume of overall crimes being committed (for example: http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/security-firm-patro...) indicate a widespread problem.
Personally, I want to be able to take the short cut across the park at night not feeling any less safe than I would taking the longer, on-road route. The question is what is it that makes streets feel safer? Good lighting, visibility.
Amenities which are open into the late evening which encourage more people to use the park after dark would also help. An example of where this has worked really well is The Level in Brighton: https://www.escis.org.uk/community-and-living/brighton-hove-level-restor.... See also http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23465035
I live in the Haringay ladder, and I like to use both Clissold Park and Finsbury Park (my favourite albeit less safe) because of their proximity/en route-ness to other neighborhoods like Stoke Newington, Hackney or Holloway. I also use London Fields as I cycle through there to work, yet it is often rather crowded, and sometimes parts are closed off for sporting or entertainment events. Is there a platform for ALL parks in London where one can search which ones are open/closed, with corresponding calendar?
I do not use the parks north of me by Turnpike Lane or in Wood Green because I do not feel them to be as safe. Also, I would really like to use the Parkland Walk to go up to Highgate for regular walks and runs, yet even in daylight, I feel that it is very unsafe and secluded as no help is nearby and no cameras are present if someone is attacked. I would only feel safe to go there if accompanied by someone during busy daylight hours.
My nearest park is Enfield Town Park and I frequently go there. It has a lake and the New River runs through it as well. The Council has recently added a small stream, to add yet another feature of interest. There is a cafe which is being upgraded right now.. Great place!
My view is that almost all of London's parks and green spaces have been sort of taken over by dogs; very few spaces require dogs to be kept on leads - even here many people ignore this - more and more people have dogs which are out of control, more and more people have dogs in the first place, and have no idea how to control them or how a dog's mind works. So we have dog dirt all over the place, dogs running up to people who don't want to be approached, sometimes jumping up on strangers, and owners who are increasingly toally without a clue as to how to control their dogs. It's as if the parks are now first and foremost for dogs (and dog owners), and only secondly for the rest of the (non-dog-owning) population. I would like to see dogs totally banned from large areas of all parks and open spaces, and only permitted into certain, limited, areas. This would reverse the priority re who/what parks are primarily for, viz us people.
As an aside I am all for every dog owner having to be registered as such, with their registration confirming their dog's details, and, every dog owner forcibly made to undertake dog owner training as part of their registration. Owning a dog is clearly not the same as driving a car or etc, however out of control dogs do cause a lot of problems, ranging from the minor nuisance type all the way through to mauling and even killing (especially young) people, so to my mind compulsory registration accompanied by suitable training (which would include tests to establish that an owner can exhibit a certain level of control at least), would be a very good idea. And I write this as a former dog owner myself, so I've 'been there and done that'.
And now maybe I'll wait to receive all the hate responses from dog owners/lovers . . .
Yes dog mess is a big problem and seems to be getting worse. Aslo with the increase in dog ownership you have to be constantly alert in case the passing dog might be hostile or start barking - it's not relaxing going to the park especially as some owners don't care. I like dogs and most owners are OK but with so many dogs now, even a minority of irresponsible owners causes a lot of issues. We need a balance, more dog-free areas would help.
I've all but stopped using my nearest park (Richmond Park, which I LOVE) after a couple of scary incidents there with dogs. The last time, the dog jumped up and scratched skin off me, and the owner shouted at me that I shouldn't be allowed to use the park if I'm going to "be like that about it". ("Like that" was crying in pain and fear.) There's no way I'm going to follow that man and his dog or hang around to take photos, so I can't report it or do anything about it. I'd love it if there were part of Richmond Park where I could run or walk without being jumped on by dogs. They also chase the deer there, which can cause all sorts of problems.
I think that would be a travesty, I dont own a dog, so my favourite thing is to see all the dogs playing in the parks during a morning run. This would be throwing baby out with the bath-water approach I feel.
Sure, there's dog mess sometimes, but most owners are considerate and pick up after their dogs in my local park. I understand that by Laws penalise people who don't clean up after dogs?
- Administering dog licenses could be prohibitively expensive, however, I could be compulsory for any vet to do a registration for dogs they treat, including a photo.
- Then a website could be set-up where somebody could report a dog "offense".
- Once the location/park and the breed was identified the list of dogs nearby to that park could be compared to the report/description by a parks police officer to identify the offending dog.
- Should that dog have many strikes for bad behaviour or the owner for not cleaning up after it then the owner could be penalised or made to take dog training.
I live near Stepney Green Park and Shandy Park. Both are known hangouts for the local drug dealers; and that definitely puts me off going there, during the day or at dusk. The police do all they can with weapons sweeps and searches etc, however the cuts affecting their services means they're fighting a losing battle.
Thanks for sharing your views.
Parks budgets are under a lot of pressure right now. Would you be willing to volunteer to help your local community keep the park clean and generally a nicer place to be?
I find it hard to believe your statement that "Parks budgets are under al lot of pressure right now". The resources wasted in Russia Docks Woods by Southwark Council on unnecessary, pointless and damaging "projects", "improvements" and other work indicate that this is not true. Furthermore the vast majority of these unnecessary "projects and "improvements" are actually detrimental to and damaging the natural environment within the Woods! I think it would perhaps be more appropriate to state that parks existing budgets are being mismanaged and the money, in part at least, is being wasted.
Well said SimonL ..!
A number of local community groups (including a gardening group I am involved with) have offered to help maintain a section of Wandsworth Park which was closed recently due to anti-social behaviour. Local councillors have not been interested in engaging with us and listening to proposals and are instead proceeding with selling the land to the owners of the adjoining riverfront homes and converting it to private use. This has left a lot of local residents feeling very frustrated. Any support from the Mayors office on this would be very welcome as we all want to save this section of the park and keep it open for public use.
The London Borough of Bexley are in the process of selling my local park. It would appear that money is more important to them than the health and wellbeing of their Council Tax payers. Needless to say, they are doing this despite opposition from local residents.
I am shocked to hear this Andy - which park is this please?
It has been well documented locally. The process has been going on since February 2015. It is Old Farm Park in Sidcup.
Same in Wandsworth, a riverfront section of the park is to be sold and converted to private use:
I live around the corner from Wanstead Flats which is a beautiful area on the edge of Epping Forest. There is much wildlife and the Flats have a wild feel that I love. What I don't love is people feeding the birds with food that is not healthy for them. This also attracts big rats that are bold and run freely around picking up chunks of bread and feeding off other food that people put out. Bread goes mouldy in the water contaminating it. There is no proper signage informing people that this is not good.
The other thing that annoys me is the amount of rubbish that is thrown everywhere. There are volunteers who do litter picking but I don't see any employees doing any!
I think the situation could be helped if local children were taught in school about what food is healthy if they must feed the birds and also about taking their rubbish away with them. The adults don't seem to know better, maybe their kids can teach them!
parks and open spaces in my local area are used by drinkers, dogs and dog walkers who can not be bothered to pick up their animals mess, plus mess and litter from take aways,
I don't use my local parks much because the traffic noise is too much - no peace and quiet at all. Also, one is dominated by pop concerts in the summer, and the large area used by the concerts is roped off for months and months while the grass recovers. The other is much smaller, but Royal Parks is handing it over to the local major landowner. They are going to change it, make it 'greener' (it is already all green and just fine!), get some placemaking 'landscaping' company in to change it. Maybe hold events there. The traffic all round this smaller park is going to get worse probably, because of the traffic rerouted from Oxford Street when it is pedestrianised. It's all about the shoppers, never mind the residents.
I love my local park and was amazed to hear a colleague describe it as a no go area because of drug dealing. I see hundreds of people like me enjoying the park every day and wonder where some people get their ideas from.
I do sometimes worry for my safety if I am there when it's very quiet, and think we should make the most of our open spaces for this reason. The more people who use them, the safer it feels in my view.
I would like smoking banned from all parks in London. The mayor has an objective to improve air quality so starting with banning smoking in parks makes sense. Nothing worse than taking the kids to the playground and you can smell (breathe in) smoke from outside the playground.
There was no mention in this survey on who is managing the park. This makes a considerable difference. If the park is managed by the local council then I would regard this as local ownership and helping in the park is a genuine community activity. I however it is managed by a private profit making company I would take the view that helping was not a community activity and was in effect contributing to the private company's profits.
Kew gardens is a good example of a wonderful green space utterly ruined by aircraft noise. In West London aircraft noise is awful and instead of talking about expanding airports we should be discussing how to make them more responsible to their local communities by reducing night flights, aircraft noise and pollution.
So I took the survey and I'm now wondering if it's just an excuse to spend less on local maintenance of parks and open spaces, and instead get Big Society to do it on the cheap instead! We definitely don't need to employ council gardeners to use those annoying leaf blowers (that run on petrol!), or have over-zealous weeding and use of chemical sprays, but equally, parks and gardens budgets shouldn't be cut.
Greater community ownership and maintenance of parks and open spaces could be a good thing if it means we can make local decisions NOT to use pesticides, to set aside larger wild/wildlife areas, and allow more wildflowers to grow.
I would like to see everyone in our community using our local park (Putney common), currently it is well used by dog walkers but not so much by others. I don't want to turn it into a theme park but there has to be something there for everyone to enjoy, I believe there is plenty of space for limited, sensitive development.
- More flat paths for anyone using wheels (wheelchairs, kids buggies and cyclists). We have all three in my family and poor access certainly limits our use.
- More playgrounds. Even in sensitive areas development using natural materials (logs, wood chip) as per Richmond Park means that more kids will get out into parks. Running a kids nursery in a park would be great if buildings were available to use.
- More cafes. Utilise any buildings in a park to open a small cafe, even if it's shared use of a building (e.g. sports hall) or part time. Having a 'destination' in a park means that more people will get out and use them.
- Fitness trails. Marked out routes for joggers, include simple equipment like chin-up bars. Online apps can be used to compare times.
- BBQ areas. Either fixed barbecues people can re-use or a safe area to put disposable ones would be fantastic for anyone who wants to enjoy some al fresco dining.
- Community gardens to grow fruit & veg for all to enjoy.
- Allocated BMX/Mountain bike tracks (where there is space to accommodate). If we want to encourage people to live more active lives we need to provide facilities, cycle tracks are a simple way to do this.
I realise all of this costs money, a few ideas might be:
- Limited commercialisation, e.g. allowing a private company to run a crazy golf course and also run a cafe as per Wandsworth Park.
- Large companies have schemes to give back to the community supplying labour and/or materials to a local project.
- Local community groups may be willing to get involved.
- Sponsorship, e.g. local supermarket sponsors a BBQ area, gym sponsors fit trail
Park gardeners do a great job, however their equipment is noisy and the small 2stroke motors have a terrible efficiency!
Some petrol powered garden tools/mowers are worse than a car in terms of NOX, CO2, PM2.5 and PM10. If someone tallied up all the fuel is would be a surprise I'm sure!
- Councils would save a tonne of money on fuel and maintenance
- the city would be cleaner
- and the tools will gradually become zero carbon as the UK electric grid decarbonises .
Thank you for all your views so far, these are all great suggestions and we'll share them with our policy teams.
Are there any facilities that you need but are not on offer in your park? Are there other parks nearby that you go to to use these or do you have to go without?
I live near Plumstead/Winn common - i won't go walking alone there due to ongoing problems with women being assaulted there.
I currently run volunteering events in two parks and three churchyards in Waltham Forest for both residents and corporate teams. There is a possibility that I will also be taking teams to one of the councils cemeteries next year. Residents appreciate any effort to improve their local green space. It is noticeable that the level of general maintenance has reduced however money always seems to be found for "improvements" which deteriorate in a fairly short time. Doesn't help that the private parks contractor is always looking to maximise their profits by either doing the minimum they can get away with or claiming the work is not on the contract so requires an extra payment. Would certainly be interested in moving to an increased community involvement in parks management & maintenance rather than handing more control to the private sector.