Conservatives call for u-turn on unlocked parks plan

Conservative councillors have called on Greenwich Council to scrap new plans to leave seven parks in the borough unlocked 24 hours a day, after it emerged park gates will not be locked over the summer on a trial basis. The move comes as a new consultation has provoked fears over the council’s future plans for the borough’s parks and open spaces.

The trial will last from July until September and will see seven parks that are currently locked overnight left open. The trial will affect Fairy Hill Park and Southwood Park in New Eltham, Queenscroft Park in Eltham, Rockcliffe Gardens, William Barefoot Gardens and Plumstead Gardens in Plumstead and St Mary’s Gardens in Woolwich.

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Conservative councillors John Hills, Mandy Brinkhurst and Matt Hartley, whose Coldharbour and New Eltham ward includes Fairy Hill Park and Southwood Park, say the plans could have a negative impact on hundreds of local residents and park users, inviting anti-social behaviour and safety risks. 

The trio have formally objected to the plans and criticised a lack of adequate public consultation before the trial is due to begin in just a few weeks, with only those residents living closest to park gates informed of the change.

Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said: “We have serious concerns about the Council’s plans to leave these parks unlocked overnight. Over the years our residents in New Eltham have suffered many problems with burglaries, anti-social behaviour and the use of motorbikes, and to leave the gates unlocked 24/7 is simply an invitation for those problems to continue and get worse.

“This is particularly worrying at a time when the council appears to be gathering evidence to use to justify future cuts to parks and open spaces. Our green space is one of the things that makes Greenwich such a wonderful place to live. This must not be put at risk by ill-conceived cost-cutting.”

The move comes amid growing concern over Greenwich Council’s plans for parks in the borough following the launch of a consultation on ‘Future Management of Parks and Open Spaces’, that opposition councillors fear could be used by Labour councillors to justify future parks cuts.

Take part in the consultation by clicking here.

Read more in this week's Mercury.