Rosa is scared: an open letter to Cllr Chris Bond
Rosa will turn 99 in February and has lived in her home that backs on to Grovelands Park since 1952. She is one of the 70 people (with 128 signatures) with houses adjoining the park who have signed letters to confirm their strong objection to Cllr. Bond's plans to leave the gates open at night. Of these homes 23 of them have reported incidents of crime emanating from the park. Rosa, like her neighbours, is very anxious that if the gates are to be left open at night she will be more vulnerable, as her back garden will be exposed to intruders.
Cllr. Bond however, does not care about the worries of this remarkable respected old lady from our community nor for the feelings of the other neighbours, in his determination to force through his ill conceived plan. This is despite the fact that an additional 700 people have signed a petition, prepared by the Friends of Grovelands, protesting.
When his decision was called in for scrutiny by the Council in October he was forced to defer action until April 2015 to afford time for the consultation with stakeholders that he had failed to do when he first announced his plans. At the full Council meeting on December 23rd he boasted that he had now been having meetings with representatives of the Friends of the Parks groups but conveniently omitted to say that, when the representatives of Grovelands Park went to see him at the Civic Centre for their scheduled meeting on December 10th', he did not have the manners to actually show up. They were then denied the opportunity of putting the views of Winchmore Hill residents to him personally. No prior apology was given by him, save the one on the day when they had arrived to discover from the LBE official that he would not be there. There was no attempt by him to contact the Friends Of Grovelands by phone or email in advance or on that morning to suggest rescheduling the meeting and there has since been no form of apology from him for this lack of courtesy, showing a distinct lack of respect for the process of consultation.
This issue is a matter of great concern to the residents of Winchmore Hill, as it is for others who live near Parks such as Broomfield, but it would seem that on current form Cllr. Bond is determined to ride rough shod over these concerns to save a paltry £23 thousand pounds but the cost of replacing the recently burned uninsured equipment in the Grovelands Park play area will be over £30 thousand pounds. Leaving the gates open at night will further expose the park to such vandalism putting equipment, the bowls club and café at risk.
Last year when we successfully celebrated the Centenary of Grovelands Park it was rightly described as the 'jewel in the crown' of the parks in the Borough, much loved by residents and the 20000 visitors who came to our event. As part of these celebrations and to leave a legacy in the park we applied for a Priority Fund Grant of £28 thousand pounds to install an outside gym, which is now a popular and valuable community asset similar to the much used equipment in the children's playground, that was mindlessly torched.
Our police constantly warn us that, notwithstanding the fact that a determined thief can always get in, we should all be vigilant in locking windows doors and sheds to protect our property. This advice of course applies to our parks where the LBE has a duty of care to protect our valuable community assets such as the equipment and buildings in our parks like the play equipment or the gym.
We, the Friends of Grovelands Park, with what we believe to be a majority of residents, are now most concerned that the Stalin like misconceived unilateral decision to cease to lock park gates at night clearly abrogates such responsibility for protecting these assets putting them at risk. The consequence would be to facilitate future incidents of wanton vandalism and sends out all the wrong signals to those intent on anti social behaviour in the parks in the middle of the night.
Additionally there are other costs that have to be factored in to nocturnal damage in the parks. In this case of the recent vandalism the Fire Brigade had at least 2 units in attendance, there was a vanload of police there and since then the police investigation officers have attended all of these need paying for out of our rates and taxes. Needless to say these dedicated services could be better deployed elsewhere like saving lives, putting out domestic fires or in the case of the police protecting us against terrorist attacks.
Rosa with the other neighbours and the Friends of Grovelands Park urge Cllr. Bond to see sense and to reconsider his decision so that the gates of Grovelands Park and Broomfield Park will continue to be locked at night, in the hope of deterring such unfortunate anti social behaviour in the future and to comply with the clear wishes of constituents. Indeed it would be a great 99th birthday present for Rosa if he were to announce this now and allay her fears.
Event Director Grovelands Park
Rosa will turn 99 in February and has lived in her home that backs on to Grovelands Park since 1952.