By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter
A park “full of rats” has been called “disgraceful”, with councillors saying the local authority is only “sticking plasters on the problem”.
At a scrutiny meeting for Bromley council on Tuesday, Councillor Kathy Bance said of Kelsey Park in Manor Way: “You’ve got rats walking in front of you as you walk through.”
The councillor referred to a survey produced by Idverde, the contractor responsible for looking after parks in Bromley.
The survey said that more than 40 per cent of users were dissatisfied with facilities in the borough’s parks. The survey also found that cleanliness was a top priority for locals in parks in Bromley.
Cllr Bance said: “Nobody wants to say our parks are awful, but this survey looks really bad on Bromley council. I think we have to fess up and say they are full of foxes, rats and squirrels.”
At the meeting, resident Eileen Welsh said that the water in the lakes in Kelsey Park was so low that “birds are walking on mud and rats are frequently reported”.
Ms Welsh asked what the council’s budget was for maintaining the borough’s parks and how it was prioritised.
In response, councillor Aisha Cuthbert said that the budget for operating and maintaining Bromley’s park was £2.3m last year, and that an extra £1m would be spent across the borough to upgrade local parks as part of the Jubilee Grant.
Councillor Will Connolly said he has used Kelsey Park since he was a child. He said: “There’s often too much vermin and litter. And apparently the lake itself hasn’t been dredged for a very long time, which causes rats.”
Both the north and south bridges in the park have been closed for a number of years. Bromley council currently plan on spending £567,000 on repairing the south bridge in the park, with no plans to fix the north bridge.
Council documents estimate the cost of fixing and maintaining both bridges would be up to £1million.
Cllr Julie Ireland said that the lack of investment in Kelsey Park in recent years was “disgraceful”, and that “continuing to stick plasters” on the problem would just prolong the decline.
She said: “It is so upsetting to see a park that was so popular amongst young and old, that was a real asset to the people of the Bromley borough, being left to deteriorate to the point where it’s no longer a desirable place to visit for most families.”
In response, Cllr Cuthbert said that repairing the park was a “priority” for the council, and that reserves in the council’s budget would be used to repair the south bridge.
The committee voted to approve the recommendations made by council officers, with £567,000 being spent to repair the south bridge in Kelsey Park.
Pictured top: A section of the pond in Kelsey Park, shown to be so shallow that mud and litter such as an office chair have accumulated (Picture: Joe Coughlan)