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Prestonpans Community Council and Action Group Join Forces for Cuthill Park

Action Group reassures Community Council that it's more than content to work together

... indeed delighted... and that it has no designs whatever to make the park 'private' - whatever that might mean! Cuthill Park was donated to the whole community and absolutely belongs to the community. The one and only reason why just a small group of Cuthill neighbours in the Action Group have been taking the lead to get the Community and East Lothian Councils to get the matter to the top of their agenda was because frankly it had been neglected by both Councils for far too long. But that is all in the past. The matter in hand is quite simply: What Next?

click on press cutting to enlarge

Two Meetings Now Scheduled

The Community Council, as reported in the East Lothian Courier above, has established a sub-Committee for the Park which the Action Group have been invited to attend on May 22nd at 7.30 pm at the Prestonpans Labour Club.

The Action Group, now calling themselves The Friends of Cuthill Park, has already held three Consultations across the neighbourhood community including indoor flyers, building on the original 2003/ 2004 Consultation by Maree Johnson and Landscape/ Countryside colleagues at East Lothian Council. They are now holding their 4th public Consultation on June 4th at 7.30 pm at the Prestongrange Bowling Club at the invitation of its President there, Dougie Porteous, who is giving The Friends his own personal support in their campaign.

The Friends' meeting will receive two significant major outcomes and hear the proposed timetable for action - if the two Councils are ready to accept The Friends' lead in the matter.

The Friends' 10 Point Renaissance Plan

The first outcome is the 10 Point Plan for the Park's Renaissance - both in the short and the longer term - which has arisen from the Consultation sequence. It's not perfect but it seems to be mutually agreed as a workmanlike start for the next stage. It includes all the original proposals endorsed by Councillor Willie Innes and the previous Labour controlled Council, and of course more besides. It certainly includes the biodiversdity proposals tabled in 2004 by Stuart Pryde, Prestonpans Principal Amenities Officer, and displayed on the Scottish Executive website as an example of National Best Practice

Best Value and Biodiversity in Scotland: A HANDBOOK OF GOOD PRACTICE FOR PUBLIC BODIES
APPENDIX 2 Case Studies
PROJECT NAME: CS1 - Cuthill Park

CONTACT: Stuart Pryde
OTHER PARTNERS: East Lothian Biodiversity

Local youths were playing golf in a neglected park, causing a nuisance by aiming at buses and an adjacent sports club. As a result, local residents were reluctant to use the park. Other teenagers were causing a nuisance by skateboarding in a residential and respite area. The park was originally dominated by amenity grass. By allowing the grass to grow, the youths playing golf were displaced and that element of antisocial behaviour was removed. Paths were cut in the new meadow and local residents started visiting the park again. Local consultation has shown that residents are delighted by the new meadow and the peace that it brings to the park. Other initiatives proposed by the public for the park include: provision of skateboard area in partnership with local teenagers; enhancing the meadow by planting wildflowers; opening up access to the park.

Murals Fest Artists Visioning Cuthill Park

The second outcome will be a series of Mural boards painted under the supervision of local resident Tom Ewing, who earlier received a Heritage Lottery Grant in 2005 for the Witch Trial Mural already in the Park on the Bowling Club's south facing wall. These are being painted literally over the previous weekend June 2nd/ 3rd in Cuthill Park at its first 'Prestoungrange Arts Festival Murals Fest' during the Three Harbours Festival. They will depict how the Park has been and how it can be for the future. World leading muralist Wei Luan, who in August 2006 painted 'The Prestoungrange Gothenburg and its first Beach Barbecue' during the Global Conference, is back again in town for Master Classes at the Three Harbours Festival. He will be selecting the prize winner amongst them all and making the presentation at The Prestongrange Bowling Club.

The Proposed Timetable for The Friends' Action

As has been reported earlier, The Friends are hopeful for all manner of modest improvements in the Park from within existing East Lothian Council resources, and confidently expect that to happen with the support of all four recently elected local Ward Councillors and the Community Council. But the more ambitious proposals including the 'Anticipatory' Core Path scheme through to the Heritage Museum and facilities across the Park itself will certainly need additional funding. This is where The Friends believe an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund's Parks for People scheme for 250,000+ , which finally closes in 2009, should be made. The next deadline to register any intention to ask for funding to create the necessary highly professional plans is June 30th and, with East Lothian Council support from Maree Johnson and her staff [as landlords and well proven experts on Countryside/ Park issues], the Friends working together with the Community Council wish to submit just such an application.

It's a very tight deadline but, working with colleagues across the Arts Festival and Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust who have already built up the expertise, they think they can probably do it and at the least they wish to try.

If perchance Prestonpans Community Council through its sub-Committee meeting on May 22nd does not wish The Friends to continue taking the lead on behalf of the whole community in such a way as it has attempted thus far, they are absolutely clear that they will readily pass the 4th Consultation Portfolio to the Community Council's officers for them to carry forward howsoever. The Friends purpose in the matter is quite simply to get Cuthill Park back into action. The Friends are more than content for others to take up that responsibility and if there is truly widespread community concern that The Friends have inappropriate "control of the proposals", and that "the Community Council not The Friends should be leading the project", then so be it.

Published Date: May 19th 2007

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