An award-winning Nelson park has been described as a “no-go” area after dark by a Nelson pensioner.
Mr Robert Wilkinson (66) also claimed a decision to award “disgraceful” Walverden Park the coveted Green Flag status has made a mockery of the award.
Mr Wilkinson, who lives in nearby Fir Street, said the park has not only become a no-go area at night because of drug dealers and drinkers, but is also in need of regular maintenance.
The retired aeroplane painter walks his dog in the park every day, but says it does not deserve its Green Flag status.
The Green Flag Award Scheme recognises and rewards the best green spaces in the country.
Mr Wilkinson said: “Walverden Park is in serious need of some tender loving care.
Pendle Borough Council has neglected it in recent years and I’m sure it is only cleaned ahead of a Green Flag or civic visitRobert Wilkinson
“I cannot believe it has been given Green Flag status – it makes a mockery of the award.
“Pendle Borough Council has neglected it in recent years and I’m sure it is only cleaned ahead of a Green Flag or civic visit.
“The steep paths are treacherous when wet and an accident waiting to happen. There are drug paraphernalia and empty bottles of spirits strewn all over the park in the morning, and as such it has become a no-go area for many older people and families.”
But Pendle Council said it was proud the park had been highly rated by independent inspectors as some of the best parks and spaces in the UK.
A council statement said the Green Flag status, which Walverden has gained for the sixth year running, was a huge acknowledgement of the hard work of staff and the Friends of the Park who work as volunteers to help manage and maintain it.
Philip Mousdale, corporate director, said: “We’re aware someone is currently living rough in the park and we’re doing all we can to find him accommodation.
“I’d like to stress we’re working hard to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”
Mr Mousdale also said Pendle Council was working within much tighter budgets meaning it doesn’t have the resources and staff it had in the past.
He added: “Litter is a problem in Walverden Park. It’s dropped in the park and blows in from surrounding streets.
“We litter pick on a regular basis and we’re looking at doing this even more. Park users and residents can help us with this by ensuring they dispose of their litter carefully.
“There is some evidence of anti-social behaviour and we’re working with Police Community Support Officers to combat this. Sadly these are not problems confined to Walverden Park.
“We’re making sure any litter, including litter linked to drinking and drugs is continually cleared up.”
The officer also stated the high density of trees meant some of the steep paths can become slippy at this time of year because of moss, but the council is now clearing this away.
He added: “We’re proud of our parks and with the friends groups we work hard to maintain them for everyone.
“We’d welcome more local people coming forward and volunteering to help us with this and ensure their park remains an attractive facility which they can use and enjoy.”
Anyone who would like to become involved with a Friends Group can contact the council via email@example.com.