Park Friends lose Lottery cash bid

As reported on April 17th 2009 by Katherine Vine (View the Article)

FANS of a Stretford beauty spot have suffered a fresh blow after failing to secure Lottery funding for the second time.

The Friends of Longford Park and Trafford Council vowed to fight on when, in May last year, they learned their £2 million Heritage Lottery Fund bid had failed.

In September they submitted a new bid, backed by the Friends’ online petition and appeals for the public to get behind the cause.

The council promised to match any Lottery funding with £400,000 of its own cash.

But this week they were told that, once again, the bid had been unsuccessful.

Group member John, who was one of the main driving forces behind the bid, said: “We are all just really disappointed.

“We had been feeling for a while that no news was not good news, but we were so hopeful that we would get this money that the park desperately needs. It seems that Stretford loses out once again.”

The park is steeped in history and once housed Longford Hall, home of the Mancunian cotton magnate John Rylands.

The Lottery money would have funded the restoration of the hall’s remains and rose gardens and the building of a visitors’ centre, performance space and sports ground.

John says the Friends now fear for the park’s future as the fight to get Lottery funding has taken almost six years.

In that time, many of the park’s maintenance issues have not been addressed.

He added: “For quite a period of time now the council has been cutting the park’s funds right back to the bare bones. We have reached the point where Longford Park is in a really poor state, and it is a real shame because the park matters to a lot of people.”

The issues of most concern to the Friends’ group are inadequate drainage leading to frequent flooding of the park, broken lighting, graffiti, inadequate toilet facilities, empty flower beds and neglect of the ornamental gardens.

Councillor Jonathan Coupe, who is in charge of environmental issues, says the council remains committed to improving the park and will continue to fight for funding to make this happen.

He said: “A lot of time and effort was put into this latest bid by many people, and their hard work has provided a strong vision for the future of the park that we intend to make a reality.

“We will continue to invest what limited funds we have available as a council to make sure standards at the park are maintained and, together with the Friends group and the community, will work hard to secure external funding so that the masterplan can be put into practice.”s