No wonder that the Ealing Today forum is so quiet when it is dominated by the frequent complaints of Ealing’s leading miserablists Arthur Breens and Eric Leach. Their latest group moan is directed at the restoration of Walpole Park, Ealing’s most used public park which is used by 15% of all respondents to the residents’ survey.
Somehow Leach can reconcile complaining about the state of the fountains and the council finding the money to fix them from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£2.4 million) and Section 106 contributions from the Dickens Yard development (£2 million). He calls the later “obscene”. Leach wants new toilets. He will get those too.
If you look at the overall master plan for the park it delivers rather more than renewed waterworks. It delivers a gracious park that will serve as an elegant setting for the Soane house which is unarguably the most architecturally important building in the borough. The current park is a mish mash which has built up over time ignoring the relationship between the house and the park and destroying views with a random collection of structures. Under the Tory administration we did some small works such as removing the redundant stage and replacing paths. The master plan will go much further.
Is it extravagant? Maybe. The master plan is a reasonable list of things to do with the money if Leach and co. care to read it. Walpole Park has been listed grade II by English Heritage since 1987 see here. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is picking up the largest part of the bill. Their funds can only be spent on heritage so I congratulate the council in bringing this sum to Ealing to improve our most important park. Would the glum boys have Heritage Lottery cash spent on something else? Somewhere else? Again the Section 106 funds for improved parks? What is wrong with that?
Leach’s misery mate Breens asks “where did this grand idea come from?”. I can tell him that it was the last Conservative administration in Ealing. One of our last acts as an administration was to sign off this Heritage Strategy which clearly identified Pitshanger Manor and Walpole Park as our highest priority. It was this clear-sightedness and willingness to invest in the Borough’s heritage assets that encouraged HLF to assist with this project. Both the former leader, Jason Stacey, and I worked hard to push these projects forward and the current Labour administration is more than happy to carry them on. I have no problem with that. If glum and glummer want someone to blame they can blame Jason and me. No problem.