OVERGROWN trees and lack of working lights in a popular South Tyneside park have sparked a safety row.
People living in Whiteleas are angry over the state of pathways through Temple Park in South Shields, which are used regularly by staff at South Tyneside District Hospital and pupils from South Shields Community School.
Some have accused South Tyneside Council of failing to properly maintain the area, raising fears for the safety of those using it.
They say those lights that are working are being obscured by overgrown trees, while pathways are also being affected.
Rubbish is also being dumped in long grass on the land, putting dogs walked by their owners at risk of injury.
Paul Freeman, 66, of Manet Gardens, is one of a number of residents calling on the council to clean up the area.
He said: “There is a real lack of maintenance in this area. The pathways are cracked and being overgrown by trees, some of the lights are not working, and the ones that are are being obscured by overgrown trees.
“The area is well used by shift workers at the hospital, and in a month’s time it will be used by schoolchildren going to and from school – something needs doing to clean it up.
“I have a neighbour who takes his wife out in her wheelchair, but with the cracks in the paths it’s getting even more difficult.”
The Whiteleas residents are being backed in their call for the area to be cleaned up by the estate’s three ward councillors, Ernest Gibson, Bill Brady and Doreen Purvis.
Coun Gibson said: “The residents have come to us to try to get this issue resolved, as they are concerned for the safety of people using the area, and they are right.
“When South Shields Community School was built we spent thousands of pounds putting new paths in as part of the safe routes to schools, and now these same paths are being so overgrown by trees that they are blocking the light – so much so the lights that are still working are having to be kept on all day.
“There is a month to go before the schools go back and with the darker nights and darker mornings setting in soon, it is vital this issue is addressed.”
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We are aware of the concerns that have been raised and are working to resolve them.
“Our officers are also due to meet with the local ward members over the next few days to discuss the issues and look at further improvements in this area.
“We would also like to remind people that flytipping is a criminal offence and we will always take action against anyone we can identify as being responsible. But we need people to report incidents to us so that we can investigate.
“Anyone with information about fly-tipping can call the council’s contact centre on 427 7000 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Witnesses are asked to take details of any vehicles and people involved and report them.”