Petitioners hope to save park patrols

IPSWICH: Park petitioners awaiting a decision by greenspace chiefs are today hoping their hours of signature collecting have been worthwhile.

Campaigners could be just a day away from finding out if the council has heard their rallying call for the preservation of warden patrols at Holywells Park.

Some 2,300 people signed a petition objecting to the withdrawal of park patrols as a borough cost-cutting measure.

The Friends of Holywells Park (FOHP) scored a partial victory earlier this year by winning their fight to keep the parks locked overnight.

And tomorrow they will discover whether the council has decided to also shelve plans to cut back on the park patrol team.

In what has so far been an amicable dispute between the two parties, borough bosses proposed using volunteers to take on some of the duties performed by the park patrol team, including rubbish collections and securing the gates at dusk each day.

But campaigners foresee a resulting rise in antisocial behaviour and criminal damage.

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Ipswich Borough Council’s executive committee will tomorrow debate the proposal after hearing a five-minute address by FOHP membership secretary Andy Smuk, outlining the objections shared by many park users.

The proposed cutbacks were part of council plans to save �600,000 over three years by giving local people more control over the management of Ipswich’s parks.

But protesters are confident the executive can save money without jeopardising services at Holywells Park.

FOHP member Tom McCarthy said: “There is as much desire on each side for Holywells Park to be a success. We are grateful that the council has listened to us and think they appreciate that we have stuck to the mandate that people signed their names to. If the cost issue can be resolved, all the better.”

Inga Lockington, the borough’s parks and leisure chief, said: “It is lovely to see how much people in Ipswich care for the town’s parks.

“There are lots of different options to consider and we hope we can come to suitable conclusion. But the bottom line is we have to save money.”

Whatever the result of tomorrow’s debate, any changes aren’t expected to be implemented until February or March.

n What do you think of the proposed changes at Holywells Park? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@evening

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