Ben's Ipswich Star Column

I know that it caused some traffic chaos for a few hours on Wednesday but the Holywells Park Fun Day really was a triumph.  Queues of children waiting patiently to pet a sheep or hold a snake, surrounded by happy families pic-nicking  and the park more full than I have seen it before.  These fun days, a collaboration between the Friends of Holwells Park and the Borough, are showing just how popular our parks rightly are. 

It is right of this administration in the Borough to continue the good work of the last in improving and promoting our wonderful open spaces - for which Bryony Rudkin, the portfolio holder, deserves credit, as does Judy Terry before her.  The challenge is to look to the park to need renovation.  Now that Holywells is to be restored like Christchurch Park before it, we as a community need to think what can be done at Alexandra, Bourne, Gippeswyk, Chantry, Belstead Brook and Landseer Parks, as well as the many 'recs' around the town like Murray Road and Sidegate Lane.  Each has its own charm and each could benefit from the kind of investment that the first two have received. 

It is not for me to say where the next Lottery bid should come from but a good idea would be to concentrate on those parks where there is an active group of friends and users wanting to make things happen.  That after all - for all the Borough's support - was how the Lottery grant for Holywells was ultimately won.  I was really encouraged to go to the first fun day put on by the new Friends of Landseer Park, the inspiration of Tara Jones.  She set up the friends with some other local residents this time last year and already they are working with the Borough to seek funds for new play equipment, play areas and a BMX track.  They deserve support for their enthusiasm alone.

Finally, back to the traffic issue.  The parking was a pain for residents and stopped some buses passing through Cliff Lane - but this is a good problem to have.  As several local residents have told me, there are people who live next or near to Holywells Park who have driven past its long wall twice a day for years without knowing what was on the other side.  What the traffic tells us is that the secret is getting out and people are reclaiming their park again.  That is a good thing.  What we need to do now is make sure they can be accommodated on hot summer days without inconveniencing the people who neighbour the park entrances. 

I'd rather have that challenge though, than worrying about the lack of people coming through the park gates at all.