Opinion: Area should be accessible and free for all

Margaret Stubbs.
Margaret Stubbs.

Thinking back to childhood, does anyone remember suggestions of ‘Let’s go to the park’ and setting off in anticipation of a carefree afternoon enjoyed with family and friends? Many towns had a park thanks to the generosity of philanthropic Victorians.

In Pocklington one such philanthropist left his garden to the town and controversy remains about whether the town and county councils should have contributed to its upkeep.

The children of Pocklington really do need a play park.

The children of Pocklington really do need a play park.

My view is that Burnby Hall Gardens would have been very different had that been the case and much unique heritage would have been lost.

Each year the Gardens look better and better with just the right balance of formal and informal planting and in recent years many interesting activities have been organised. However, let’s not make the mistake of regarding Burnby Hall as the town park – it is not.

The Gardens give pleasure to many but they are mainly tourists, retired residents who can visit regularly or those with disposable income.

The entry fee or annual pass may seem reasonable to the trustees but can seem a lot to ordinary working families with limited opportunities to visit. Children cannot go there to play after school and, in fact, cannot go there unsupervised and the area is not suitable for running and football except for the very young.

Pocklington lacks a park.

West Green is under-used apart from dog walkers and it is a field not a park.

The skatepark seems to be welcome and popular mainly among boys of around age eight to 18 but a town park should be for everyone.

West Green could be more attractive with more trees, benches and natural play areas without spoiling the green space.There could be a proper path around the perimeter.

It is good news that the Pocklington Play Area Group is currently working on a project to provide outdoor gym equipment in conjunction with the town council and perhaps community minded people could provide logs and tree trunks. Volunteers have made an interesting park at Fangfoss where children enjoy such activities as playing on a wooden tractor or in a willow tunnel.

Although I would like the Gardens to be free, I believe they need to continue as a paying tourist attraction. Burnby Hall Gardens needs the income from charges to survive.

The town vouncil gives money towards some band concerts there but it is still difficult for the Gardens if bad weather makes for a poor season.

It is claimed that the Gardens are a valuable asset to the town by attracting thousands of tourists. This is true, although many visitors do not realise the town centre is so near and that Pocklington is such an interesting town to visit.

A trail has been suggested between the town and the Gardens to improve connectivity but, in my view, the biggest help to improve the visitor economy would be to erect a new information board at the Gardens with perhaps an artist’s impression of the town and mention of the wide range of independent shops.

I would love volunteers to be encouraged to grow plants in Burnby Hall greenhouse area to be used around the town. There is a wealth of hands-on expertise among inhabitants which could be passed on to the next generation. If the grant to refurbish the potting shed materialises it would be good if it was actually used for potting again!

Let’s value the Gardens but also work towards providing a park – not in competition but as a complementary green space which is attractive, accessible and free to all

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