PEOPLE power is keeping everything blooming lovely at a Victorian park in South Tyneside – despite council cuts.
Green-fingered volunteers are spending hours working to keep West Park in Jarrow looking its best.
Members of the Friends of West Park have secured financial support from local industry to acquire gardening equipment to maintain lawns and flower beds.
Launched five years ago, the group is helping supplement gardening work carried out by grounds maintenance contractors employed by cash-strapped South Tyneside Council, which this year has faced severe criticism over its cost-cutting wildflower meadow scheme.
Group treasurer Linda Vygus said: “Some other parks look like tips, but we are very proud of West Park and aim to keep it looking lovely.
“We would invite other volunteers to come and join us.”
Paul Moore, chairman, said companies such as TT2, A&P Tyne and International Paints have provided financial support for a battery grass-cutter, plants and other items.
He said: “We have a dozen members and our gardening club meets on Tuesday afternoon and Thursday night, when we work to maintain the park.
“We recently adopted the area near the entrance in Park Road and cut the grass, do the rose beds and generally keep the place looking neat and tidy.
“But we could do a lot better with more volunteers and help.
“The next meeting of the Friends of West Park will take place in the park lodge, near the entrance in Park Road, on September 9, at 6pm, and new members are always welcome.”
Mr Moore declined to comment on the area of West Park where wildflowers have been planted as part of the controversial scheme.
Councillors Jim Sewell and Melanie Cartwright, for the Monkton ward, both applauded the work of the Friends of West Park.
Coun Sewell said: “They are doing a wonderful job and we appreciate how many hours the volunteers are putting in to keep West Park looking nice.”
Although he conceded that the council’s wildflower meadow scheme had not been a universally popular success, he added: “Hebburn Community Area Forum does support the Friends of West Park, in terms of money for plants and so forth.”
The call for more volunteers was backed by Coun Cartwright, who said: “West Park is really well-used by all sorts of people – from bowlers to dog walkers – and more helpers are needed to keep it looking its best.”
To get involved, e-mail Westpark1876@hotmail.co.uk or visit Friends of West Park on Facebook.