Call for help to improve town’s Valley Gardens

Valley Gardens in Castleford. (P512E338)
Valley Gardens in Castleford. (P512E338)
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People are being urged to take action to improve a town centre park.

The Express is backing calls from parents and councillors for the community to work together to help spruce up Valley Gardens in Castleford.

Ward councillor Richard Forster hopes to generate enough interest to set up a new friends group to take pride in maintaining the park.

He said: “Valley Gardens is a green space in an ideal spot in a densely populated part of town.

“To make the park look really nice, and to attract investment for things like new play equipment, we really need a group of people to help look after it.”

Coun Forster’s comments come after Smawthorne mum Rachel Johnson contacted The Express to raise her concerns about the space.

She said: “It is the park nearest to the town centre and if it was made a bit nicer, it would be a great place for anyone shopping to call in for their children to have a run about or to sit and have a picnic and just enjoy and make the most of it.

“I can remember going as a kid and loving it. A few years ago it was done up and it was lovely. But it has gone downhill. It seems to have been neglected.”

Mrs Johnson said she avoids taking her sons Aston, eight, and Aaron, five, to the park due to its “rundown” appearance.

She said: “Bricks are hanging off the walls, which is dangerous, there’s graffiti everywhere, it’s just not a nice place to be or take your kids to. There’s not much in terms of play equipment. It’s such a shame because it has a lot of potential.

“It got me thinking, could the community get together to do a park clean up? Someone could cement a few bricks up where they’re missing, people could help with painting and with planting to make it nicer.”

Coun Forster, also deputy cabinet member for environment and communities at Wakefield Council, said the authority was finding it “increasingly difficult” to replace play equipment due to budget cuts.

He said: “Schools and volunteers are already supporting Valley Gardens and we very much appreciate their contribution. We would welcome it, if residents would form a friends group as this would help attract external funding to help us bring the park back to its former glory.

“We can offer support and guidance and would like to hear from anyone interested.”