Safety and vandalism concerns as Sunderland park to be left open 24/7
Barnes Park will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from 1st June as City Council scraps park wardens and gate-closing services.
Local residents and students at nearby Bede College have said they are worried about an increase in anti-social behaviour and vandalism in Barnes Park, after Sunderland Council axed its park warden service and decided to stop locking park and cemetery gates overnight.
The park opened in 1909 and is one of the most popular in the city following a lottery funded revamp several years ago.
As of next week, Barnes Park will no longer have a warden, and the park gates will be left permanently open. Mowbray Park will also lose its warden, although its gates will continue to be locked overnight.
The mobile park warden service for other parks in the city has also been axed.
Wearside Liberal Democrats said they would be asking the Council to reverse their decision.
Commenting, Bailey Baker - Lib Dem campaigner for Barnes - said:
“It is shocking that Sunderland Council will stop opening and closing the park gates at dawn and dusk, and are withdrawing Barnes Park’s warden too.
“Many residents living near the park are worried about an increase in anti-social behaviour when gates are left open all night, and students at Bede College tell me this move will make them feel less safe in the park.
“That’s why I’m urging ruling councillors to think again. This change will save the Council a small amount of money, but could have a huge impact on the community in Barnes.”
Sunderland’s Lib Dem councillor Niall Hodson added:
“People travel from all over Sunderland come to enjoy Barnes Park, and many are concerned about what could happen during the day without any wardens, and when it is left open all night. I will be raising this issue at the Civic Centre to see what can be done to review this decision.”
Local resident Michael Dono lives in High Barnes – he said:
“I'm annoyed that they're axing the wardens at Barnes Park - back when it was refurbished it was a great park, but I feel since then it's had a lack of attention despite so much being put into the refurbishment in the first place. I can understand the budget is under stain, but they could have just reduced the hours of the wardens instead of getting rid of them completely. When I first heard about the gates being left open 24 hours a day, I liked the idea, but if the park is not being policed then it’s potentially not safe to go in there in the later hours.”
Notes to editors:
Sunderland Council’s 2016/17 Budget included a decision to: “Stop the park and cemetery gates opening and closing service - This would create an open park policy 24/7 and remove the park wardens at Barnes Park, Mowbray Park and the mobile service, whilst security requirements for events will be paid for by the organisers. Communities in the vicinity of parks will be given the option to open and close park gates if they consider it a priority.”