Please give us our park back

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It was once a green and vibrant jewel in the crown of the district’s public amenities.

Now a shoddy shadow of its former self, Zetland Park stands as a symbol of what can happen when neglect sets in and funding seems to be poured elsewhere.

Residents have been complaining about its sorry state for some time, but they are not lying down to the situation. In fact calls are being made for Falkirk Council to hand over ownership of the park to the people of Grangemouth.

Local resident Scott Hardie said Grangemouth is now classed as one of the most deprived areas of Scotland according to a Scottish Multi-Deprivation Index report and the state of the park is an indication of this fact, adding the facility would be better off under the control of the people who actually use it.

He said: “The people of Grangemouth are having to do the work on this Falkirk Council-owned park themselves. The Community Trust only manage the business side of it and not a penny has gone into this park for years.

“We cannot get our hands on the £10 million funding available for parks from the Climate Challenge Fund.”

Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Climate Challenge fund has three core criteria that groups must fulfil to be eligible to apply for funding - the community must be at the heart of the decision making process of the project; funded activity should lead to measurable CO2 reductions and; funded activity should result in a positive legacy for the community.

Mr Hardie said: “If the council hand the park back to the people or community-led groups of Grangemouth, we can get the funding.”

Following a request by Friends of Zetland Park, work has recently been carried out on the park by people who are paying their debt to society through Community Payback Orders.

Roy Dewar, unpaid work supervisor, said: “We have been working to reinstate the paths in the park – some of them were only three feet wide so we increased that to six feet.

“We just wanted to make the park more accessible to people and we have also been painting railings. The feedback we have been getting from people who use the park has been excellent.

“This work will be ongoing whenever we get a chance to get down there.”

Former Falkirk councillor Pat McAfferty, chairman of Friends of Zetland Park, praised the efforts of the unpaid work team.

He said: “They have done a wonderful job, giving us back our footpaths.”

Mr McAfferty knows there is a lot more to be done in the park.

“We are a very dedicated group of 10 people trying our best to get the park cleaned up and looking good.

“We have been trying to convert the old paddling pool into a stage for bands to play on but we are having problems with drainage.

“We also want to tidy up the tennis courts and tarmac the children’s cycle area and we’re hoping to repair some of the bridge entrances at Abbots Road.

“We have some money coming from Fines For All and hopefully some from Falkirk Council – we are in talks with them at the moment.

“I know Scott thinks there would be more money available to us if we owned the park, but I can’t see Falkirk Council giving us control of Zetland Park.”

According to Falkirk Council, it has recently carried out several pieces of significant repair work within the park and extensive tree surgery.

A spokesperson said: “There are plans to do further path repair/resurfacing, painting of railings and the herbaceous border in the rose garden will be renewed.

“The Council works/storage area shall be screened to shield operational storage requirements from general public view.

“Additional tree planting is planned using planning gain moneys from the recent Asda development.

“The level of maintenance applied within the park has not been reduced in recent years and the area is regularly patrolled by Community Safety officers, who issue fixed penalty notices for dog fouling and littering.

“Significant sums of money have been spent on a range of projects within the park in recent months and the Council continues to work closely with the community.”