7th March 2012 – Crawley News
Reported by Jenni Nuttall
LOTTERY funding will be used to restore a historic park to its former glory, despite strong opposition.
Crawley Borough Council has been granted £2.42 million towards improving Worth Park after a fierce debate at a full council meeting last Wednesday.
To receive the cash, the council had to commit £975,000 of Its own money to the project.
Labour councillors opposed the decision to accept the funding, arguing that the council’s money should be spent on Tilgate Park instead.
Tory councillors countered that the council would have to spend a huge sum of money on environmental improvements to the Worth Park’s lake, so it made no sense to turn the offer down.
Kate Oliver, chairman of Worth Park Friends, said it “beggared belief” that anyone would say no to the money.
She added: “We have known about this project for years and there have been plenty of opportunities to oppose it.
“Why they waited until now I cannot understand “So much tune went into the grant application and we’re incredibly lucky the Heritage Lottery Fund allowed us some extra time, “But that speaks volumes for the park, that they were willing to wait.”
The council found out its bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund had been successful in December and wanted to approve committing its own money at a cabinet meeting in January.
But because of Labour’s opposition, a decision on whether to accept the grant was delayed so the issue could be debated at the next full council meeting.
The Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to extend its deadline for accepting the grant until after the meeting.
At last week’s meeting, Lenny Walker, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “If we don’t take it. we’d be looking a gift horse in the mouth.
“We’re looking to create jobs with a head gardener and an apprentice. I can’t understand why the opposition party called It in.” But Michael Jones, Labour councillor for Bewbush, said: “This money Is needed far more pressingly for Tilgate Park, to invest in it and cover the shortfall in what the council has envisaged would be invested in it externally”
The majority of members voted in favour of accepting the money Work is expected to begin on restoring the park and Ridley’s Court, opposite, in the spring.
As well as the restoration work, the money will go towards creating an education centre for children and members of the public to learn about the park’s history
OLD: Some of the cash will be spent on fixing Worth Park’s fountain