Committee resign over �2.7m Letchworth park renovation

DISCONTENT over the delayed completion of a �2.7m park restoration is growing amid news that committee members of a group associated with the project have all resigned.

All seven committee members of the Friends of Howard Park and Gardens have quit, 10 months into a North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) project to renovate the area in Norton Way South, Letchworth GC.

The Comet contacted the group, who have closed down their website, to ask why the decision to resign was made, but they refused to comment.

The work, which includes a refurbishment of the paddling pool and creation of play areas and a bridge, was due to be finished in autumn this year but the completion date has since been put back to spring 2012 due to a change in technical requirements for the pool.

Funding for the scheme, being carried out by UPM Tilhill, has come largely from the Parks for People programme, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.

Writing on, Cllr Paul Ross, from Letchworth Garden City Council, said: “The Howard Park redevelopment seems to be going nowhere fast – and it’s now time to ask: is this due to inefficiency, complacency or both?

“The completion date has just been put back to spring 2012, and at the present rate of progress this could well be the summer of that year.

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“The park now resembles a bomb site – a mountain of soil and rubble, holes and trenches everywhere and a load of half-completed mini-projects.”

Letchworth GC resident Helena Alexander, who runs, said: “It is a shame the work will be delayed even further, we were hoping to be using this park during summer. Before the (playground) pirate ship in The Wynd there was nowhere to take your kids too close to the town centre.

“Too be honest most mums I’ve spoken with are not surprised as no work has been done for ages. To leave the building site like it is now is a bit of an eyesore. Hopefully it will be so good once it is done that it was worth the wait, but still we’d wish they could hurry up!”

Responding to the announcement that the committee had resigned, Cllr Ian Knighton, NHDC’s portfolio holder for leisure, said: “The Friends of Howard Park and Gardens have made a valuable contribution since the very start of the project to regenerate the area, and we hope to continue working with them closely in the future.

“Both ourselves and the Heritage Lottery Fund recognise that it is hard to maintain community involvement in parks throughout the construction phase. This is simply down to the limited accessibility while work is carried out.

“Once the site is handed back to us there will be many more opportunities for the Friends group to be involved. Their ongoing input will be invaluable to the successful future of this important part of Letchworth.”