Sunday, April 01, 2007

Parks Strategy Scrutiny Panel on tour in Belle Vale

I know my constant smiling is beginning to nauseate a bit, but really I am having such a great time being a Councillor and having an input into all the things I care so much about.

Believe me, after some of the stupendously crap things that have happened to me in my life, this has to be the best of times.

My Mum told me once that her life really turned a corner when she was 40, I hoped mine would too, never quite believing it, but it seems it really has.

Anyway, enough of such things, we went to Belle Vale Park for this session and had a walk round a park very different to the grand Calderstones with its emphasis on horticulture. This session was all about the different way that parks are used and in Belle Vale that is about activity, sport, playing and having a great time.

We met the newly elected Chair of the newly formed Friends of Belle Vale group and she was so enthusiastic about the differences they were already making. It is not a park of shrubs and plants and flowers, although they have planted some wild flower beds and semi-meadows that I hope to visit again in June when they are at their best. There are football pitches and plans for cycling facilities (indoor and outdoor), outdoor ping pong tables (I think I will need to see one to understand how that could work) and picnic tables for local shoppers and shop workers. There is also a special Millenium centre serving the local people with a coffee shop, bar, library and meeting rooms, right in the middle of the park.

We had a presentation after our walk about the Green Flag scheme which is organised by the Civic Trust. They award green flags to those parks in the country who are welcoming, clean and well designed, taking into account their local heritage, and accessible, with thoughtful provision of services to local people.

These highly prized awards are what drives local Parks Departments to improve their parks and Liverpool hopes to secure another three over the next few years.

There is also, we learnt, a "Good Parks" guide nationally, which apparently Liverpool features in. That would be a great present for my birthday if anyone is reading! I love parks, imagine being able to confidently visit parks round the country as you go to new places, knowing you will have plenty to enjoy.

Once again we all came away from the session full of bonhomie and good warm feelings. I am glad I am on Parks and not the worthy but heavy Waste Management panel.

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