Berwick’s £1m parks project

Castle Vale Park by Robert Johnson

Castle Vale Park by Robert Johnson

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Fears have been raised that people will not want to visit Berwick’s refurbished parks because they are frequented by drunks.

The near-£1 million revamp of Castle Vale and Coronation Parks is nearing completion and it is hoped up to 125,000 people a year will visit them.

However, local residents told Berwick Town Council’s annual meeting they would avoid the area because of their concerns.

Cecily Graham said: “I had cans thrown at me one time I went in there.”

Another resident said: “The work that’s being done there is fantastic but the reality is that people are not going to feel safe because of the drinkers and drug dealers, especially during the summer.”

Parks manager Kate Morison was aware of the issue but insisted she had never had a problem since she started work last June and much of her time was spent alone.

Councillors urged people to report any incidents of anti-social behaviour to the police.

Coun John Robertson said: “We know there’s a gang of six that cause the problem and we know who they are. I can only urge anyone with concerns about their behaviour to ring the police on 101 and let them know. That’s the only way it will be dealt with.”

Mayor Isabel Hunter added: “We can’t let a small number of people spoil it for everyone else.”

However, residents said that whenever police had attended in the past the offenders had returned the next day or moved somewhere else.

Brian Martin suggested CCTV could be installed.

Coun Phil Elliot said there had been a good response to a neighbourhood watch scheme that has just been set up in Magdalene ward and some of its members could go on regular parks patrols.

He said: “It’s up to everyone to take responsibility for the area and report a problem if they see it.”

And Andrew Marshall said the offenders might move on of their own accord now that the area has been spruced up and more visitors are expected.

Meanwhile, Ms Morison revealed the main contract work will be finished by the end of April and volunteers have started on the first phase of planting.

An official opening is planned for July.

“We’ve been really lucky with the weather over the winter but some things always take a bit longer than you think,” she said.

Footpaths, steps, railings, entrances, access, shelters, garden spaces and seats are being upgraded, while water and lilies will return to the lily pond in Castle Vale Park. Many trees have also been removed or pruned to let in more light and create a more welcoming environment.

Signage and information will be provided, with the aim of bringing the parks back to life and back into the heart of the Berwick community.

Berwick Academy’s lifeskills unit is working on a community garden for a small parcel of land off Tweed Street and the Alzheimer’s Society is setting up a gardening group.

The parks will have an electricity supply so it can host events.

T’ai chi classes, a dawn chorus and a 24-hour bioblitz are also planned.

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