The group could offer a voice for Riverside Park and “act as a driving force for improvement”. It could also be a vehicle to attract funding for improvements, and become a direct point of contact with the Council.
Other friends groups have already been set up in Southampton: for example the Friends of St James’ Park, Friends of Mayfield Park and Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery.
According to their website, the Friends of St James’ Park in Shirley now has over 400 members. Volunteers sell fairly traded refreshments and goods from ‘The Kiosk’, which is located in an old ARP block, and organise various community events in the park. The group is currently applying for a full grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve facilities.
The Green Flag Award is the national standard for parks and green spaces in England and Wales, which began in 1996 as a means of recognising and rewarding the best in the country. It was also seen as a way of encouraging others to achieve the same high environmental standards, creating a benchmark of excellence in recreational green areas.
So far in Southampton Mayfield Park and Central Parks have received the award for four years in a row, and Southampton Common has achieved the award for the first time this year. The criteria for the award include creating welcoming, healthy, safe, secure, clean, well maintained and sustainable spaces.
The community must also be encouraged to become actively involved in management.
The Riverside group reconvenes on January 17, and will be meeting with a representative from the St James’ Park friends to learn about their experiences of setting up their group.
To find out more, contact the City Council Open Spaces Team on 023 8083 2911.
If you have any comments about your local parks you can also make them via GreenSTAT.