Group set up to breathe new life into park

Valley Gardens in Castleford. (P512G338)
Valley Gardens in Castleford. (P512G338)

A new group has been set up to improve Castleford’s Valley Gardens, after an Express campaign calling for action.

The group, made up of councillors and members of the community, with support from staff at Wakefield Council, aims to restore the park to its former glory.

Castleford councillor Tony Wallis said: “We have all got memories of how lovely it used to look.

“The group members are very enthusiastic and ready to get stuck in to doing up the gardens, putting plants in, seeing if we can improve the play equipment and generally just making it a better place to be.”

Coun Wallis, who helped set up the Friends of Castleford Library, Smawthorne Welfare Action Team and Castleford Community Partnership, formed a Valley Gardens group several years ago.

But with no new members coming forward, the group disbanded.

“This new group is definitely needed,” he said.

“But we really do need more people to come along and volunteer to help us make a difference.”

The Express backed calls from parents and councillors for the community to work together to spruce up the park, back in March.

Smawthorne mum Rachel Johnson raised concerns over its “rundown” appearance.

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.

“A few years ago it was done up and it was lovely. But it has gone downhill. It seems to have been neglected.”

Speaking at the time Coun Richard Forster, for Castleford, said the council was finding it “increasingly difficult” to maintain the space and replace play equipment due to budget cuts.

He said the authority would support the founding of a friends group, which would help to attract external funding.

The group has now had its second meeting and are putting together a plan of what they want to achieve.

They will then begin applying for grants to fund the work.