Local campaigners fight to reclaim Victoria Park

The playground at Victoria Park Vivienne Johnson

Residents of West Reading are working hard to reclaim an inner city park from the people who are currently mistreating it.

“To have a really nice park in Central Reading that is abused is really frustrating,” said campaigner Steve McCoull.

Local residents find the park dirty and unsuitable for children to play in safely.

“Many have decided to stop taking their children altogether after stumbling upon sex acts in broad daylight, drug addicts feeding their habits, and verbal abusive from people under the influence,” states the petition that is trying to make a difference.

“Dog mess left by just a few thoughtless owners has built up and is also ruining this precious green space for local people.”

The campaign is seeking to employ a park warden and for permission to create an orchard on waste land at the bottom of George Street adjacent to Victoria Park. It is thought that if the park is used by more people, less vandalism and drug taking would take place there.

“Driving up usage could be as simple as making sure there is a bench on each side of the park.” said local resident Fiona Wilson. “A lot of the solution is tiny things such as improved lighting.

Paul McCabe, owner and coach of Reebok CrossFit Training whose premises are next to Victoria Park would like to use the park as part of members training sessions but the people abusing the park put his members off.

“Drinking and marijuana smoking is mainly what we see all the time. I think that’s unacceptable. This is a residential area,” he said.

“The funny thing is you have that going on then you’ll have a group of lads still trying to hold a football game,” Paul added.

“They’re still trying to persevere and claim it as their park but it’s a very difficult environment for them to do that.”

As well as making the park a safe and cheerful place for families to go campaigners want to turn a plot of derelict land into a community orchard. The plot is about the size of two terraced houses and their gardens. It would be secured to prevent vandalism but accessible to locals using a system similar to the one used by Oxford Road Community Garden off Western Elms.

“Planting a few more trees which will bring more fresh air into the area.” said Fiona.

“It could provide quite a tranquil little space for people to get together who maybe don’t see anybody from one week to the next.

“A beautiful loved green space that the local community could feel proud of.”

Petition organiser, Emily Meunier has already had a meeting with council officials regarding the proposed Orchard site.

“It was in many ways positive as they seemed to like the idea and understand the long term benefits.” she said. “We are waiting to hear back from them about what plans Reading Borough Council may already have for this plot but fingers

crossed they don’t [have any].”

A public meeting has been arranged for local residents and interested parties to discuss ideas and form a committee for The Orchard.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday August 26 between 6.30pm and 7.30pm at Oxford Road Community Garden, Western Elms Avenue, (just behind Lidl and Dreams.)

The petition to reclaim the park can be found on this link.

Update 18/8/2014: The campaign has a Facebook group which you can find here.

Last modified on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 08:27