‘I love Stanley Park but I’m concerned about vandalism and upkeep’

Wednesday, 3 July 2024 07:47

By Richard Hunt - Local Democracy Reporting Service

Blackpool’s Stanley Park has long been considered one of the jewels in the town’s crown – but a concerned resident fears it could be in decline unless something is done.

Jack Valentine, 28, who grew up close to the Grade II listed park and has been visiting it for the past two decades, says vandals are routinely destroying walls, steps and memorial benches.

Although there are CCTV cameras in the council-owned park, first opened in October 1926, he believes the fact there are no wardens patrolling it in the late afternoons and evenings is encouraging the yobs.

The vandals appear to have taken hammers to some of the low stone walls that border footpaths, smashing parts of them into crumbling dust. They have also targeted steps and cherished memorial benches.

Meanhwhile, he says, key features of the park, such as the clock tower and the pool fountain, no longer work properly and would need investment to fix them.

The park’s ambitious design – by eminent landscape gardeners TH Mawson & Sons – includes Italian gardens, a large lake, a bandstand and amphitheatre, multiple sports amenities, play area and an Art Deco cafe, boosted in recent years by a skate park and impressive, upgraded BMX track.

Mr Valentine said: “Stanley Park is Blackpool’s only green space and is a brilliant place to visit. I have been going to the park since I was a kid and I’ve always loved it.

“It’s been voted Britain’s best park.

“I’m worried, though, that it’s in danger of going downhill. Over the last few years, because of vandals and a lack of maintenance, it has declined, sadly.

“I know a lot of money has been invested in it in the past few years, like the BMX track and the skate park, but you can see it is starting to look shabbier each year.

“The vandals are smashing it up, the bowling pavilion is just neglected and homeless people are living in th shelter, the clock tower is showing the same time it has shown for years because the workings are broken. The fountain doesn’t work any more because the plumbing is broken.

“It would be such a shame if that continues, because in two years time it will be the centenary.”

One of the park’s volunteers, who spends time tidying up the park, agrees and said: “Stanley Park is a beautifully designed park and is still lovely, but you have to keep on top of amenities like this.

“Vandalism is a key issue but so is maintenance – you have to keep maintaining the pathways and repair of buildings and the walls, the clock tower and the fountain.

“Councils have to show that they value this kind of amenity.”

A Blackpool Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of some recent incidents of vandalism at Stanley Park to some of the stonework around the park which will be fixed in the next few weeks.

“We have discussed the recent vandalism with the police and have agreed to put in some additional anti vandalism measures within the park. CCTV is also installed at different locations across the park and is monitored regularly.

“Gates at the park are locked and opened daily by security. We have not had any recent reports of vandalism to memorial benches but they are getting old. We have recently restored ten of them and ten more are due to be restored over the summer months.

“Residents and friends of Stanley Park are encouraged to report any incidences of vandalism they witness to the police ”

Officially opened on October 2, 1926 by the 17th Earl of Derby, Stanley Park was estimated to have cost £250,000 (equivalent to £18,328,429 in 2023).

In 2017 Stanley Park was announced as the winner of the 2017 Fields in TrustUK’s Best Park, as voted by YOU! award, having topped the public vote.

It has benefited from significant investment within the last 20 years, including the £20,000 upgrade of the BMX track in 2016.

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