Friends of Ferndene Park was set up in 2006, though not as a gardening group. This bit began in 2010 which was when Gateshead MBC gradually began to withdraw horticultural resources. The flower beds, which won Britain in Bloom many years running, fell into decline and were rescued by the dedicated Friends. Today, the local authority cut the lawns and hedges, but that’s it.
Maggie Milburn joined the group in 2012 and spends on average 9 hours per week tending the gardens. She is assisted by Wendy Morgan, Alison Stancliffe, and Penny Marshall.
Our local neighbourhood police officer (PC 473 Andy Hyde) has been tackling anti-social behaviour in the park, and he chaired a meeting for Rytonians last Saturday morning. He’s intending to hold these meetings regularly, and the next one will be at 11am on Saturday 18th June in the bowling pavilion. The problem of ASB peaks on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the Gateshead Outer West Neighbourhood Team have the park on their tasking list. Serious incidents will always withdraw the police away from here, but it remains a priority as far as possible.
Several issues were raised at the meeting, one being that ASB is given the opportunity to thrive during the evenings because it isn’t busy at those times. As I’ve mentioned previously, when I was young we used the park daily and had a sense of pride and ownership. We could hire the tennis court for a nominal sum, use the putting green, and of course there was the pool. The park teemed with life until the gates were locked at dusk (if they ever were). Now, during the evenings, it’s little more than a thoroughfare. The Friends are doing their best to change this. For further information Click Here to visit their Facebook page and here to contact Andy. Why not come along to the meeting next month? It’s our park, let’s keep it in our hands. You can also follow the Outer West Team on Twitter Gateshead Outer West