The unkept Hawkenbury Recreation Ground
An open letter to Peter Every at Tunbridge Wells Borough Parks team.
I am writing to you today regarding the current, unkept, neglected state of the Hawkenbury Recreation Ground.
The grass areas
I am aware that some of the grassed areas in the recreation ground are left to grow wild and I fully support this. These areas give insects and bees places to thrive within our urban environments.
However, in some instances, the remaining areas of lawn have not been cut this year. In particular, one only needs to look at the grassed area to the left of the pedestrian gate at Hawkenbury Road that gives access to the all-weather pitch. The area surrounds the foot paths that lead to Forest Road and Hawkenbury Close has not been cut this year.
The grass backing the properties on Napier Road has only been cut once this year and it is looking overgrown again. The large playing field opposite this area was cut a week ago, however, it was never finished. A large corner at the entrance to Dorset Road remains uncut, the edges remain uncut and the general appearance is poor. The corner at the entrance to Dorset Road also remains uncut.
Where the grass is cut, the cutting are not collected. With the infrequent cutting, we are left with large mounds of cut, wet and rotting grass piles for our children to play in. This is particularly true within the children’s play area and the field below the old pond, above the walkway behind Napier Road. It really is unhygienic and unsightly.
It would appear that the hedges are only being cut once a year now. They are left to overgrow gates and foot paths within the park. The hedges are also full of ivy, brambles and weeds, so much so, that in places they do not even resemble hedges any more. The hedge along the foot path (between Hawkenbury Road and the all-weather pitch) is collapsing and the bank is nearly gone in some areas. It seems to be a general issue here, because the hedges around Dunorlan Park are not in much better condition.
I understand that the grounds men are doing the best with the resources and equipment that they have. I am aware that their lawn mower broke and the contractor, Sodexo, have now replaced it with what can only be described as a domestic lawn mower. I don’t know how the grounds men are expected to maintain the park when they do not have the resources and equipment necessary. They do not have a suitable mower to cover the area involved, they do not have an edge trimmer to tidy up the edges, around the benches and other fixtures and fittings in the park. They do not have a hedge trimmer to keep the hedges in check. Other than emptying bins and painting the lines on the cricket pitch, they do not have the tools available to do much else. As a minimum, you would expect them to have a lawn mower suitable to cover the size of area that they are expected to maintain. A edge trimmer and hedge trimmer will also go a long way to improving the state of the park.
The unkept state of the park leads to a number of other issues that affect our enjoyment of the area. Dog walkers think it is acceptable not to pick up their dog faeces in the long grass. They have to make a decision about wading through long, uncut grass or leaving it in place. People leave litter everywhere. Footballers think is it appropriate to urinate in the long grass and hedges. The whole area just has a feeling of neglect about it.
One can only assume that there is a service contract between the council and Sodexo regarding the maintenance and upkeep of the park. This clearly not being maintained, monitored or enforced and, we as taxpayers, are not getting value for money. Sodexo seem capable of maintaining parks. You only have to look at the Grosvenor Recreation Ground to see what is possible.
There is a large dead tree directly opposite the rebuilt pavilion. Is this going to be removed at some point? I would hate to think it would fall onto someone sitting on one of the benches.
The children’s roundabout in the play area is an ongoing issue. It has never worked properly. At a meeting held with residents a year ago, action was promised. Nothing has happened thus far. Are we going to get a new roundabout?
In a further development, the willow tunnel / play area has now been removed as the contractor failed to maintain it and it became hazardous to our children. The area is now cordoned off with orange safety barriers. Is this going to be replaced or do we lose another item from the play area?
The Arris rails at the Dorset Road entrance have been damaged and removed for years now. No attempt has been made to repair the damaged entrance. The post attached to the vehicle gate at the corner of Maryland Road and Hawkenbury Road is rotten and is going to fail soon. Can something be done to repair / replace these items?
I would appreciate it if you could look into these matters for us and I look forward to your response. I would hope that the recreation ground could look it’s best for the coming summer. I have taken a few photographs around the grounds and attach them for your attention. They highlight my concerns.
Thanking you in anticipation.
Editor – www.hawkenburyvillage.co.uk