We all know that the Council is hard up and must look for innovative solutions to raise more money and provider or maintain services right across the board. Our pars are no exception to these. But there are limits and that limit was certainly reached in Walton Hall Park over the weekend.
I haven’t got the full story because at the time of writing this the e-mails I sent to a senior officer and a senior councillor four hours ago asking, “What is going on?” has not been responded to. So this blog is limited to the facts that I do know.
1. A company has been given the opportunity to exploit Walton Hall Park by letting people attending EFC events park all over the Park
2. This has not been discussed with the local community
3. This has not been discussed with Friends of the Park
4. The Company is not based in the Walton area.
5. Yesterday they allowed parking not only on hard standing car parks but also on grassed areas.
6. These grassed area were being used by Children playing and enjoying the good weather.
7. When challenged both some staff directing the parking and some drivers were abusive and threatening.
8. Some of the grassed areas haven damaged by the parking
9. Some areas planted with bushes by the Friends of the Park have been ruined.
These are what I am trying to find out:
1. Who gave permission for this?
2. Why was the local community and Friends of the Park not consulted?
3. Who will pay for the damage to the park
4. Who will replant the areas planted and paid for by local people
5. Who decided that ‘free’ parks could be used for this purpose?
6. What tendering process was agreed to which arrived at the present operators?
7. Where will the profits from this go?
8. Why has all this happened before even the first meeting of the “Task and Finish” Group for Walton Hall Park has even had its first meeting.
The pictures I have seen and the accounts that I have heard show a breach of all normal democratic principles and an abuse of the statutes of the Park. It seems to me that at least 2 Park Bye-Laws have been broken and the operators concerned should be taken to court by the Council. If the council has given permission for the bye-laws to be ignored then the Cllr concerned should be removed from his or her permission.
The friends of Walton Hall Park and I WILL get to the bottom of this. We must if the same treatment is not going to be meted out to our other parks.
In the meantime I understand that the next home game will be on 12th September. I cannot be there because I am returning from holiday that day but I hope that all Friends of all Parks in Liverpool and others will join their Walton Hall Park mates to prevent this abuse on that occasion.
Think I am exaggerating? Just look at the pictures yourself!
I HAVE NOW RECEIVED THIS RESPONSE FROM THE SENIOR OFFICER CONCERNED. I THINK THE COURSE OF ACTION PROPOSED IS FINE BUT THAT MUCH STRICTER SUPERVISION IS REQUIRED OF THIS ‘CONTRACT’.
As per my earlier email, I would like to provide clarification on the points you raise.
Since April 2103 Walton Sports Centre has been operated by Alt Valley Community Trust on a 30 year peppercorn lease and co-terminus concession agreement. The car park is a shared facility servicing Walton Sports Centre, the Liverpool County FA offices, the artificial turf pitch and a number of grass football pitches.
The City Council, through its Streetscene Service, is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the car park.
Prior to transfer the City Council, through its Sport and Recreation Service, managed match day parking at the facility. In this context vehicles were only allowed to park in dedicated car park bays located within the existing car park.
At the time of transfer AVCT took over the management and income retention of match day car parking until such time that the future of the Soccer Centre site was determined. No permission was given by LCC to AVCT to allow for cars to park outside of marked bays. This continues to be the case.
It is clear that on match days a number of cars park outside of specified car parking bays on footpaths, grass verges and raised traffic calming areas within the park. This is causing inconvenience to park users, restricted access and damage to land.
In response to concerns about these issues officers from the City Council carried out a site visit on 8 August 2015, the first Everton home game of the season and requested, in line with the existing arrangements, that cars should only be allowed to park in marked bays and that the car park should be closed once all parking bays were occupied. It was made clear that cars should not be parked on grass verges or any other grassed areas.
On Sunday 23 August it became clear that cars were still parking in unmarked bays including footpaths, grass verges etc. As a consequence a senior officer will be writing to the Chief Executive of AVCT advising that this practice must stop and the movement of traffic during the match day parking sessions be closely managed. This includes disallowing vehicles from accessing the car park once at full capacity. Officer from LCC are meeting with the Chief Executive of ACVCT to ensure these issues are resolved.
Yours sincerely, Ron.
Ron Odunaiya, Director of Community Services