Group accuses council of Longford Park neglect

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger May 14th 2009 by Robert Downes

A STRETFORD park was neglected for six years in the false belief Lottery cash would pay for its restoration.

That’s the claim from the head of the Friends of Longford Park group, Jean Byrne, who also accused Trafford Council of lavishing cash on parks in the more affluent areas to the south of the borough at the expense of others in the north. “The Friends of Longford Park have been working hard for almost 10 years to persuade Trafford Council to prioritise a park it has called ‘the jewel in its crown’,” she said.

“For six years much essential maintenance work has been put on hold on the assumption that the park infrastructure would eventually get fixed with the Lottery money.This assumption has proved wrong and the gamble failed. We feel that the council has shown a degree of neglect of our park and indeed of the Stretford area in genera. We find beds full of flowers at the south end of the borough and yet the flower beds in our park lie derelict and basic lighting and repairs have been left for years.”

But executive member of parks, Cllr Jonathan Coupe, said: “Longford Park is a priority, flagship park in Trafford and significant resources are dedicated to its maintenance. “HLF funding focuses on improvement projects, not essential maintenance work, so maintainence work has not been put on hold at any time. Recent work carried out has included a newly-surfaced footpath from the Quadrant entrance to the rear of Longford Cottages and the improvement of the younger children’s play area. “The council does not spend more on parks in the south than the north of the borough” he added.
The council also confirmed around £400,000 of town hall cash earmarked for improvements at Longford Park had the bid been successful, may not now definitely be spent there. A spokesman said there were ‘no guarantees’ the cash was ring fenced for Longford Park projects only.