Volunteers at an award-winning Nelson park have hit back at claims it did not deserve its Green Flag status.
The Friends of Walverden Park were responding to allegations made in last week’s Nelson Leader made by resident Robert Wilkinson that the park was unsafe and a “disgrace”.
Mr Martin Hodgson, secretary of the Friends group which was set up in 2001 to help maintain the park, said: “We were very upset by Mr Wilkinson’s claims and refute a lot of them.
“When the Friends group was formed, Walverden Park was neglected and scruffy. It was our aim from the start to make the park into the sort of place someone would want to visit and which would be an asset to the community.
“We are proud that our numerous Green Flag awards are testament to that. Walverden Park is not perfect and we agree with Mr Wilkinson that some areas do need improving, but these things take time and we are working on them.”
Mr Wilkinson had complained that steep paths in the park were dangerous when wet due to moss and there were problems with littering, particularly beer cans and bottles.
Green Flag don’t look for a perfect park, they see what’s relevant to the community and how problems are being addressedMr David Smith, Friends of Walverden Park
The Friends group accepted these claims and said it was doing all it could to improve these aspects, but stressed its partner, Pendle Borough Council, was working amid tight budget restraints.
Mr David Smith, treasurer of the group, said: “Back in the days of the old Nelson Corporation, Walverden had three permanent park-keepers, now there are three for the entire borough.
“We agree the paths need treating, but I believe new techniques are being tested at another park which could be a solution.
“Sadly, litter is a problem and we do all we can to clean it up. We would just ask that people take personal responsibility and use the litter bins provided.”
Mr Hodgson said the group’s aim was to transform Walverden into an “urban woodland” and encourage flora and fauna.
He added: “We want people to be able to experience nature in this dense urban area.
“We have deliberately left nettles in to encourage butterflies and also have a wildflower meadow. We have left the trunks of some felled trees on the ground to encourage colonisation by flora and fauna.
“Green Flag don’t look for a perfect park, they see what’s relevant to the community and how problems are being addressed.
“They have said Walverden is innovative and unique. We are proud of that.”