Wakefield's Thornes, Holmfield and Clarence Parks to get 'desperately needed' investment

Volunteers have warmly welcomed plans to give one of Wakefield's most cherished green spots a much-needed facelift.

By David Spereall
Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 12:47 pm
Mr Deighton said he believed the coronavirus pandemic had emphasised how important the parks are for exercise and enjoying the outdoors.
Mr Deighton said he believed the coronavirus pandemic had emphasised how important the parks are for exercise and enjoying the outdoors.

Thornes Park, Clarence Park and Holmfield Park, which are technically separate but effectively form one huge outdoor space to the west of the city centre, have been given a £550,000 investment from the local council to improve facilities.

The cash will be used to dredge Thornes Park's lake, in which dozens of fish died last month, as well as to revamp the children's play area and the Clarence Park bandstand off Denby Dale Road.

It's been claimed that record numbers of visitors have used the parks since lockdown was imposed in March.

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From left to right: Chris Welch and Ian Deighton from the Friends of CHAT group, alongside Wakefield West councillors Michael Graham and Hilary Mitchell.

The Friends of Thornes, Clarence and Holmfield Parks (CHAT) help maintain parts of the site, but its chairman Ian Deighton said the area was "desperately in need of investment".

Mr Deighton said: "We’re really excited by this, it’s fantastic news.

“Credit where it’s due to the council - Denise Jeffery came down to the park and had a look round and the leadership’s really listened to what we’ve said.

"I think partly because of the present times we’re living in, people have realised how important the park is to Wakefield.

The children's playground will be revamped as part of the improvement programme.

"We’ve had new visitors who’ve been here for the very first time and our we’ve recruited some new members to the Friends group.

"If you look at the lake it really needs draining and cleaning out. It’s not been a nice environment for the ducks and the fish this summer."

Senior councillors signed the cash off at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning.

Portfolio holder for skills and Wakefield West councillor Michael Graham said he was "so, so happy" with the news.

The amphitheatre off Denby Dale Road will also get a sprucing up.

"Thornes Park's just an amazing outdoor space that serves the city and the district as a whole," he told the meeting.

"I think with the pandemic and the staycations people have had, we've seen record numbers down there.

"But people are right about the duck pond.

"There's a vile smell coming from it, and it's no wonder. There's bags of dog pooh in there, there's litter, dead plant material and there's even a pink scooter somewhere at the bootom.

The park has drawn record numbers of visitors this year, the council says.

"It's in dire need of this investment."

"We've got an excellent space in the play area. It's the biggest in Wakefield and it should have a wow factor. We should have kids going down and wanting to come back every day and at the moment I don't think it's quite there."

The council also approved funding to carry out short-term repairs to Thornes Park Athletic Stadium, which was severely damaged by a suspected arson attack in February this year.

The move will allow the stadium, which is used by groups including Wakefield Harriers, to accommodate visitors again soon, but the ageing building is likely to eventually be replaced by a new facility.

Police spoke to three boys following the incident, though no-one has yet been charged.

It's understood the case has not been closed with prosecutors working through a backlog of cases after lockdown.

But Councillor Graham told the meeting: "I think residents have been extremely frustrated, because we had the fire in February and then the pandemic and so people who'd normally use it six or seven times a week haven't been able to go.

"I think it's a shame that no-one's been charged for what happened. They've absolutely ruined it and put a lot of people in danger.

"No-one's been held to account for it.

"The stadium's needed investment for a long time. Because it's so well used things do wear down."

Local Democracy Reporting Service