Park wall repair to cost 'ridiculous waste' of £160,000

Park wall repair to cost ‘ridiculous waste’ of £160,000

An ex-leader of Dudley council has criticised plans to spend £160,000 on rebuilding historic walls in Stevens Park, Wollescote, as a waste of public money.

David Sparks, who led the authority from 2012 to 2014, spoke out against the cost during a meeting of the Ernest Stevens Trust Management Committee.

The meeting was asked to accept council officers’ recommendations to borrow £90,000 to rebuild a section of wall measuring approximately 100 yards.

In February, the committee agreed to use £70,000 to repair another collapse of the conservation listed boundary.

A collapsed section of historic wall at Stevens Park, Wollescote.

 

Slamming the costs, he agreed it should be rebuilt  but said: “I think this is a ridiculous waste of money.  

“We should be able to construct a wall at a lot cheaper price.

“There are listed buildings and listed buildings but this is a wall.”

He added: “If we want this to be living history then we should be able, somewhere along the line, to allow people to put in modern techniques.

“It does seem a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a wall.”

  

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The meeting heard conservation regulations required handmade bricks and specialized lime mortar had to be used in the rebuild.

It’s the second time the former councillor has criticised the proposals.

Last year he said conservation groups were ‘too precious’ about the materials that could be used or changes to construction.

Sections of the walls which enclose the park’s garden collapsed in 2015 and again in January 2018.  

They are part of Wollescote Hall which was bequeathed to the people of the local area by the Ernest Stevens family in 1930.

Cllr Ian Kettle, committee chairman, defended the expenditure saying the council had to comply with conservation laws.

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Julia Marks, a representative for the Friends of Wollescote Park, added the work needed to be done quickly.

She said: “The park has deep meaning to people in the area and it may seem to be just a wall but to those people it means a lot more than that.

“With the wall in the state of disrepair it is, it looks like the park has become derelict and it’s attracting vandalism which is compounding the problems we have.”

The committee agreed to borrow £90,000 over 15 years while council officers sought other sources of funding.

 

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