Grab a handful of your favourite blood pressure medicine and have a good hard stare at this. Times are hard and getting harder, attractions are closed and closing. In Canterbury, however, there’s over £1 million ear-marked for Westgate Gardens…
Canoeing pontoons, fishing platforms and an outdoor gym are all part of Canterbury council’s plans to revamp the Westgate Gardens. The idea is to spend £1,136,000 on the green space, including Toddlers’ Cove, to bring it up to date.
Executive member for the environment, Cllr Rosemary Doyle, said:
“This has been in the pipeline for quite a long time. It does need doing. Every now and again you have to revise and see how gardens are being used and whether they are being used for their best effect. The idea is to make it usable for more people. Certainly the canoeing and the fishing are things we have had requests for as people are interested in it. There are canoeing groups that use bits of the Stour at the moment, and we want to make it easier for them to use the river. This will benefit all sorts of groups.
The aim is for it to have universal appeal with improved play areas for children, to improve things for young people such as the canoeing and the fishing, and to make it comfortable for people to walk there and have picnics and admire the trees and the flowers. We want to bring more of the river in to use as well; that is one of the garden’s great strengths. It is a huge asset to Canterbury.”
The park will benefit from a new play area for children, new bridges, an extended area for events near the Westgate Towers, a better picnic area and improvements to the war memorial area. In Toddlers’ Cove, the area of the park further out of town, there are plans to make the area under the Rheims Way bridge safer with CCTV, better lighting and fences and make it easier for people to enjoy the river and its wildlife.
In particular the council wants to open up Bingley Island, a semi-natural site covered in scrubland and trees, so people can better enjoy it. And near where the children’s play area is there could be canoeing and fishing areas. Riverside Meadow, which is directly over the river from the picnic area, space will be opened up for older children to play ball games. And the council wants to emphasize the heritage and cultural aspects of the gardens with educational activities, archaeology etc. There will also be new toilets and paths, seating and lighting throughout.
The council already has £377,500 for the project, much of which is from developers who are required to give some money for community projects when they build houses and flats. And the rest is to come from the Heritage Lottery Fund, if a bid the council is to put in during August is successful.
The plans are out for public consultation, so to find out more and have your say go to: www.canterbury.gov.uk/westgategardens or visit the Information Centre in Sun Street. Those who fill in the council’s questionnaire by Friday, July 9 have the chance to win £100 of vouchers valid in many high street shops.
yourcanterbury.co.uk 9th June 2010
If ever you need a handy reminder of what’s wrong with Canterbury City Council, the clue’s in the name:
It’s two-thirds Canterbury City and one-third Council.
In terms of population and tax revenue, the district is fairly evenly split into four: the Villages, Canterbury, Herne Bay, and Whitstable. In terms of spend, Canterbury seems to be getting the lion’s share: the Beaney is an £11.6 million project; the New Marlowe is a £25.5 million project; the Westgate Gardens revamp is a £1.1 million project. More locally, the Herne Bay Pier Trust has received £5,000 in start-up funding – a reflection of CCC’s priorities, I suppose.
When CCC was explaining the budget cuts earlier this year, they went out of their way to pre-empt the oft-repeated complaint that Herne Bay is the “poor relation”:
… ongoing regeneration work shows that the council is putting plenty of resources into Herne Bay, so the suggestion it is the poor relation is simply a myth.