Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Mill Dam is 'my' park

A message to Cllr Janet Willis, the deputy leader of the council, who came along with the delegation from SLDC to the 'Dangerous Pots in the Park' meeting yesterday (Chief Exec, man-in-the-suit, Lawrence you-vill-not-garden-here Conway, Deborah Ugh-he's-my-boss Wright and Peter friendly-bodyguard, do-I-really-have-to-be-here, Clarke)


Thanks for showing an interest today.

Some of your questions to me were inappropriate because you hadn't had the opportunity of learning my connection with this park.

Perhaps you will understand why I see Mill Dam Park as 'my' park!

Mill Dam is there now in it's present form largely because of my actions back in the eighties.

SLDC was left the land by Mr Woodburn, of The Town Mill, who I knew. I'm pretty sure - and can check - all the land including that built on for the sheltered housing  was left to the town by him for a playground and not housing. However SLDC nicked half of it to built the sheltered housing and then left the area unfenced for the children as six foot high mounds of builder's rubble with bricks and broken glass which children used on their bikes much to the concern of we locals.

We did two things back then :

1.We launched a competition in our Library with the help of our very sympathetic librarian, Barbara Adams; a competition to design a playground . Bernard Ellis and I then built a model of the winning design which was exhibited in the Library to gain publicity to get SLDC to in fact build our playground.

2. We also formed a local group who met a couple of times in Sun St opposite and then went to the Town Council to make them take action to support our park. This they did very reluctantly. We then campaigned with the district council themselves so that they gave in and agreed to spend about £10,000 on our park rather than for a lift in a building in Kendal.

Next we involved Playdale though one  of the sons of this , at the time, new business venture in providing us with equipment at a favourable rate. I can still remember his visit to the site in Mill Dam to discuss the layout --  all the timber posts , now falling apart, and the chain bridge you saw today date from the original park.

I had to move away to London in 1987 to train as a teacher at Goldsmiths  after another project of mine - the present Oxfam building at the head of the market square. ( I preferred to do this than continue my career as a Chemical Engineer which had originally led me to come to Ulverston to work for Glaxo and then to California to work for Shell near San Francisco, then return to Ulverston to purchase and convert The Falls, Mansriggs into what it is today).

I returned to Ulverston to retire in 2004, and started pottery projects in Union Lane and then Gill Banks and then at Lightburn park. This latter project was done with the approval of parks officer Tony Naylor and local councillors Norman Bishop-Rowe. This  project originally conceived by a local group in one of their houses was left in their hands headed by Tony Taylor of Lightburn Road.

I was aware at the time of the potential hazard of the broken pieces of pottery caused by vandals connected with the skateboarding project and took care to remove these so that damage was not caused to the blades of the machinery cutting the grass - I have emails to back this up.

Sadly the people left in charge of the project failed to take care in the same way I had done. The next I new was that the pottery and all our battons - paid for by me -had disappeared . They were not returned to me neither was I informed despite my contacts with Tony Naylor who is not known for his work ethic. I would like them back if they still exist !

In 2008 I ran for County Council as an independent and  launched my Blog so that the electorate might know about me -
I then spent a whole year visiting every house in the East Ward but failed to get elected. At this time I got to know James Airey well and imagined that we would be working together as Ulverston's two County councillors. The post is now held by Mark Wilson .

I started my involvement in Mill Dam Park as a result of this defeat. I reasoned that I needed to get down to grass roots and support the community (echoing my attempt to do the same when I bought and converted The Corner House - now Oxfam)  Parks are special  to me in that they enable people to meet together and get to know each other on neutral ground.

On being given tulip bulbs from B&Q in late 2008 by the police for community use we started improving Mill Dam from a very barren park with little interest to what it is now: a tremendous success, much used my the community. Now after four years hard work , the building of a dedicated green house and the spending by me of £3,000 on this greenhouse, bulbs, manure, plants we have created a much valued park that people travel up to five miles to use.

James Airey is aware of much of this and now so are you!

If you stop and consider my personality and my ability to achieve things during my life time, you will realise that I am not impressed my the statements made by the SLDC personel. My work in Mill Dam and other projects will continue in exactly the same way as before the meeting today, you can be sure.

Now you are better informed and will perhaps understand who you are dealing with.

Dr Geoff Dellow (Ph.D Chem.Eng.) Birmingham University 1960. Formerly KEGS Five Ways and Hunter's Hill Open Air boarding school (who did a brilliant job of not only giving me good health - thanks Birmingham City Council - but an excellent education so that I went into the Grammar school in the top of a four form year)

My particular strengths are problem solving, creative projects (I have two patents to my name - one at Glaxo, one at Shell, California) and becoming a facilitator for other people along the lines of A.S.Neil and Carl Rogers.

Note our pottery group has now started working with Robert Leach of PromArt and a pottery project on the railings there through Grange town council and of course Deborah Wright !

Join the public visiting Mill Dam Park and pick some of our sweet peas along with me at 10 am on Sunday - I'm to be found their every week at this time.

Best wishes - happy dreams!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The explanation of your involvement with the park does explain why you feel passionately about community involvement in its upkeep.

In my opinion the NW Evening Mail did not represent the community versus SLDC fairly in the article published on Wednesday it was heavily biased in favour of the arguably negligent Council.

I have only been “gardening” in the playground for a few years and felt that the SLDC officers gave an unreasonable response to my request that a group of volunteers should have their permission to weed the flowerbeds regularly on Sundays between 10 and 11 am. They denied permission on the grounds that a skilled gardener, from the Council, should accompany us. Is this reasonable condition for a Sunday morning?

Does it need a grass-cutting/ litter-picking representative of the Council to accompany responsible retired gardeners improving the appearance of a patch of plants? Common sense dictates that if the SLDC wilfully neglect the comfort and enhanced appearance of a much-used public space they should welcome the attentions of well-meaning local people.

This exchange of a reasonable question and unreasonable answer was not mentioned in the NW Evening Mail. The article suggested that I was an angry unreasonable person. I was angry about the ridiculous answer to a reasonable request.

The lack of representation from our local Councillor (Helen Irving), who did not deign to attend the meeting, is another issue that was not mentioned in the newspaper’s report.

Where do we go for help to sort out a frightened group of Officers? Local Councillors?
Newspapers? Neither dare raise their heads above the parapet to help us maintain a neat and tidy playground for local families. Is anyone out there able to assist us to move forward from this impasse?

Christine Atkinson