Anger over Knowsley’s parks being sold off

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King George Playing Fields in Prescot. Pic © Gem Jones JMU Journalism

Petitions are making the rounds and a protest is being organised, following the news that Knowsley Council will be selling 17 of its parks for development.

A list of parks set to be handed over during the course of the next 15 years includes Broad Lane Playing Fields, Roby and King George Playing Fields.

The council insists that the move will protect the remainder of its green spaces from government funding cuts, with £40m from the sale being invested in a charitable trust for the upkeep of the rest of the borough’s 144 parks.

However, some locals are deeply happy at the idea of losing their parks, and an online petition has been started, with members of Prescot’s Green Party also collecting signatures.

List of the parks

(100% sell-off unless stated)

Alt Park Page Moss (71%)
Broad Lane Playing Fields Northwood
Copthorne Whitefield
Court Hey Park Roby (34%)
Cowper Way St Gabriel’s
Field Lane Cherryfield
Finch Wood Halewood South
Frederick Lunt Playing Halewood north
Grace Park Halewood South
Halewood Doorstep Green South (42%)
King George V Playing Fields, Prescot North
Pool Hey Playing Fields Stockbridge
Roby Playing Fields Swanside
St John’s Millennium Green St Gabriel’s
Spring Wood St Gabriel’s
Syders Grove Precot North (15.9%)
Westview St Gabriel’s

A protest has been arranged by the Green Party, with members of the public urged to stand alongside them outside Huyton Council Offices on December 13th at 3:30pm. They say the demonstration will be peaceful, “but bring your whistle”.

Knowsley resident, Abbie Eves, told JMU Journalism: “I have used this park for over 14 years. I started coming here with my dad before I can even remember. I’ve made endless memories here.

“I now regularly walk my dog on the field, take my cousins to the park. and let them have a kick about with the ball on little pavement pitch at the back. I would be a real shame if this was taken away from us, and I am sure many would agree.”

Councillor Carl Cashman, a Liberal Democrat representative Prescot, told JMU Journalism: “A lot of people have been getting in touch with me telling me they really don’t want this piece of land being sold off for housing developments. We were under the impression that this piece of land [King George playing fields] would be safe – but it appears that nothing is safe at the minute with Knowsley Council.”

However, Labour Councillor Andy Moorhead, the Leader of Knowsley Council, said: “We are not selling parks off. We are releasing 10% of our 161 sites across the borough to realise £40m to maintain the rest of the sites.”

Knowsley’s budget was previously cut by £100m under central government austerity measures, and since the service of parks is not a statuary requirement, the council says funding must now be found by other means.

YouTube: Gem Jones