I requested to speak at the Planning Meeting today and was allowed 5 minutes. (It should be on YouTube in a few days but the last meeting – the record button wasn’t pressed so that wasn’t available). Anyway, for what it’s worth, this is my 5 minute allocated speech – 4.minutes 55 seconds at my last ‘test read’.
It is 4 pages long so might provide some good bed time reading to send you to sleep:
“I am representing Friends of Sandall Park, a voluntary charity community group formed in 2004, who are proud, passionate and unpaid.
Our group comprises teachers, retail staff, nursery owner, retired police officers, a retired Home Office Crime Reduction specialist, project managers, elected members and school children. In 2010 we were awarded the Queens Award for voluntary service, the result of transforming the park from a crime ridden den of anti-social behaviour into a well-loved family park which is packed every weekend and school holiday.
Please do not confuse volunteers with Amateurs, we continually put words and vision into action – our dedication to Sandall Park has proved we are not playing at this!
Since our formation we have drawn investment of over £700,000.00 into the park.
We created a Junior Ranger Scheme to ensure young children become actively involved in looking after THEIR park, they are the volunteers of the future.
Our first major project, working with DMBC, was to reclaim the old golf course and use our professional experience as Police Officers to rid the park of crime. Importantly, an additional 20 acres of greenspace that had been abandoned, was re-introduced back to park life.
The toilet in the park had its own website for illegal sexual activity!!! Again, using our professional background, we eradicated that crime, even with the council objecting to crime reduction measures.
The proposed café/restaurant that is open into the evenings will help to prevent anti-social behaviour returning to the park during the evenings and complements our crime reduction strategy.
As a result of our successes, we have provided crime reduction presentations and training courses to community groups, councils and greenspace representatives from across the whole of the UK including some London Parks and Keep Britain Tidy Group. We founded the Doncaster GreenSpace Network to bring all the community groups together, and we attend National Conferences.
Our next major project – if the new café is built – is to turn the redundant men’s toilet block into a Changing Place. This is a purpose built facility where children and adults with disabilities can use the toilet and be changed, in a dignified manner. Currently they have to be laid on the dirty toilet floor, or go to Lakeside. And we have hundreds of visitors with disabilities every week.
If this café doesn’t go ahead, the Changing Place cannot go ahead. We have had this plan on the table for three years and we have no doubt that we can raise the external funds for this.
The proposed Café/Restaurant is due to be built on the current tarmac car park of the current café, the tiny amount of greenspace it will take up (0.05%), becomes almost totally irrelevant, particularly when you consider the overall 69 acres of Sandall Park itself.
In 2008, we returned over 3 acres of derelict land adjacent to the nursery back to greenspace. This area is now a plantation of 1500 trees.
FoSP were asked by the council last year if we could utilise the derelict Nursery area of 2.6 acres, and we produced a detailed plan to return this to public green space as an inclusive dog agility Park. 15 months later, it is still derelict.
Parking Problem? There is not a parking problem. There are already 141 extra parking spaces in the laybys and Ash car park Barnby Dun Road that have not been accounted for.
FoSP always maintain that we positively manage the reputation of DMBC. A quarter of the working population of Doncaster drive past Sandall park twice a day. They look across and see magnificent new play areas and fitness equipment and an extremely popular family park with events taking place, not the wreck of a park it was 15 years ago. And it is not just a local park, visitors come from every Ward in Doncaster. We would like them to see a Gateway restaurant/café, that will be the envy of every single park in the country.
The council don’t have a plan, or a vision for what the park will look like for the next generations. FoSP do. It does include as a minimum – refreshment facilities and toilets for families – the park users of Doncaster and beyond deserve nothing less.
When this current café building is condemned: because it IS falling down – who will pay for a new building? DMBC said they do not have the funds to replace the café for the tenant.
This is why we have battled for the last six years, painstakingly, working closely with DMBC, the tenant, various professionals and putting together an agreement with DMBC that allows a win win for all. Additionally we asked over 500 individuals their thoughts on the scheme, all without a single negative comment.
If this multi million scheme does not go ahead ahead, in the coming years when Sandall Park is a wreck again I can sleep easy and honestly say that FoSP did everything within their power to preserve the park’s future.
Make no mistake the, next, significant, stage, for the positive growth and management of the future of Sandall Park, is at stake here and will be decided this afternoon, by the people in this room.
I hope you make a decision that will take the park forward for future generations to enjoy so that it doesn’t become abandoned as it was in the early 90’s when all the other facilities were removed – and nobody knows who made THAT fateful decision. Today we can make the right decision and move Sandall Park forward