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The Walks Carnival stand has queues out of the door

MJR | 15.09.2004 09:34 | Ecology | Repression | Social Struggles | Cambridge

Visitors were queueing out of the tent to see the multi-colour version
of the trees plan at the Walks Action Group's stall in King's Lynn's
Charter Carnival on Sunday 12 September.

The group gathered over 160 responses in just four hours, compared to the original council-run survey which gathered only 97 responses in four weeks. This clearly shows a problem with the consultation that informed the entire plan for the Walks.

The comments are being analysed by volunteers and results will be available later, but the group was surprised by the strength of public opinion about the borough council's plans submitted for Heritage Lottery Fund support in July 2004. Many people expressed shock at seeing WAG's green/blue/red map of the park trees, even though some had already seen the "shades of green with black rings" official version distributed in newspapers and displayed on signs.

The high number of responses came despite the stall being placed at the opposite corner to the council Walks exhibition and frequent public address announcements directing visitors towards the council's display. The council stand did not record public responses to the plans.

About the Walks

The Walks is a large park near the town centre of King's Lynn. It consists of two distinctive long mature tree avenues (St John's Walk and Broad Walk/Broad Walk Extension), one avenue whose trees have been nearly all felled (Red Mount Walk and Seven Sisters Walk), two large fields (Red Mount Field and the Recreation Ground) and two formal gardens (Vancouver Garden and St James's Park). In the park, there are a small children's play area, a popular basketball court, some poorly maintained tennis courts, and the small closed Red Mount chapel. Small sections of the old town wall route are still visible.

Around the edge of the Walks are the library, football club, railway station, churches, schools, pubs and some government offices. The busy London Road and Tennyson Avenue run along opposite edges and the avenues form useful cycleway and footpath links between them.
The Gaywood River, Millfleet and Walks Rivulet run through the park, which is an urban haven for common English wildlife, such as squirrels, bats and ducks. There are even some muntjac deer, who probably enter and exit via the railway line.

About the Walks Urban Park Restoration Project (WUPReP)

The project is a bid from the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk for around £4.5m in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Included in it is much-needed work to clear the river and rivulet so that the recreation ground can drain properly, and restoration work on the Red Mount Chapel which stands near the river.

Sadly, a small amount of the money will be used to fell all the mature trees along Broad Walk and the Extension in the first phase of the plan and the recovering trees in the St John's Walk avenue will be felled in around 15 years. The plan ignores the recommendations of the council's own tree surveyors in favour of an approach more familiar with stately homes than urban parks. The council's main consultants are Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick and Company, who also worked on the Leeds Roundhay Park project (see below).

The last original public opinion survey was carried out in November and December 1998, gathering 97 responses in four weeks (from stage 1 bid). There are unanswered questions regarding this survey. The published results seem to contain mistakes and key requests have been ignored. The request for more recreation facilities has been met by proposing removal of the popular basketball courts and the unmaintained tennis courts. Absurdly, the low use of the tennis courts (which have potholes and no nets) is used to justify their removal. WAG is carrying out its own surveys to try to establish public opinion.

About the Walks Action Group (WAG)

WAG is a group of individuals who wish to see the council's plan revised to avoid unnecessary clearance of healthy mature trees and the correct care for any trees in danger. The primary method is to demonstrate that the current plan does not have full community support (a requirement of the Heritage Lottery Fund Public Parks Initiative). Members of the group may also have other concerns which they would like the council to address before supporting the bid, and many support parts of the plan such as the Red Mount Chapel restoration and the park rangers.

Supporters can contact WAG online at Group members will speak at a number of events over the coming months and more invitations from interested groups would be welcomed.

Supporters wishing to see other work funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and advised by Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick and Company can visit to see the current state of Leeds's famous park.



Display the following 2 comments

  1. Fluffed link — MJR
  2. Correction — MJR