Council backs Preston park refurbishment plan

Grange Park's play area will be restored
Grange Park's play area will be restored
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A £100k makeover of a Preston park’s play area has been given the green light but triggered a debate about cuts to the town hall’s budget.

Council officers had hoped the refurbishment at Grange Park, Ribbleton, would be externally funded.

However, less than half of the £105,519 cost was found meaning the city council would be required to plug a £57k shortfall.

Opposition members, speaking at the latest full council meeting, questioned why this project was being backed ahead of others.

And Coun Neil Cartwright, leader of the Conservative group, highlighted that parish councils were being asked to contribute £50k a year to help fund park maintenance in contrast to this city based scheme. He said the plan was “discriminatory”.

Ruling Labour Party members said they were forced to prioritise schemes due to budget cuts. The chamber was told the park, located in a Labour controlled ward, serves a large catchment of residents in a deprived area and is in need of modernisation.

Coun Martyn Rawlinson, cabinet member for resources and performance, said the cost was a one-off capital payment as the park is already maintained and inspected by the council’s parks and street-scene team.

He said: “This council’s funding has been top sliced without any guidance on how we have to deal with this.”

Coun Margaret McManus, Conservative member for Sharoe Green, said residents’ groups in her ward had raised their own money for refurbishments and this scheme was therefore unfair.

The £48,000 of external funding will be met by Moor Nook Central community group (£2k), Lancashire County Council (16k) and Lancashire Environmental Fund (£30k)