It is with sadness that Leicester Green Party has learned of the recent dissolution of the Friends of Victoria Park community group. This group has worked for many years “to promote the use of Victoria Park by local people, recognising its social, historical, ecological and horticultural values.” (https://fovp-leicester.org.uk/) The decision to wind up this important community group was taken at their recent AGM and an inability to form a productive working relationship with Leicester City Council was cited as the main reason for this.
Two of the group’s objectives were “to promote developments that will improve the park and to encourage community participation in developing the park.” Despite repeated assertions by Leicester City Council that they want to work with local community groups, the Friends of Victoria Park reported to its members that it has experienced a clear lack of communication and engagement by the council.
A document from the group’s chair, sent to members to prepare them for the dissolution of the group, said that:
“More often than not our presence as an interest party, or stakeholder is unrecognised. Suggestions and proposals we make for development are ignored or over-ridden and responses to council proposals or actions make no difference to what the council has already decided to do.”
A former member of the group told Leicester Green Party that: “Time and again we had come up with issues or ideas, presented evidence of community views, engaged with the council, fulfilled every single requirement they put to us, filled every piece of paperwork, only to find that at the last hurdle they changed their minds or had changed the processor and pulled the funding but had ‘forgotten’ to tell us.”
In the chair’s report, the following were just some of the examples cited:
- exclusion from making any contribution in the decision-making process on Section 106 funding for park projects,
- The group’s suggestion for the re-use of the old play park near the Health Centre as an area for young people to congregate was ignored – the council has now bulldozed the site.
- The group submitted a considered and locally consulted plan for the new London Road cycle path which would have been more direct and result in the loss of fewer trees but received no response.
We understand that the Friends of Victoria Park are not the only community group in the city to have difficulties in working with the council. This results in local views being ignored and will result in less community involvement in the future development of local areas.
Leicester Green Party calls on Leicester City Council to properly engage with such local community groups and take advantage of the resources and enthusiasm they bring, rather than merely stating empty words in response to their concerns.
The Friends of Victoria Park assets will be transferred to the Friends of Clarendon Park and reserved for any benefit they might be able to bring to the park in the future.
Councillor Danny Myers agreed to take the feedback from the AGM back to the council and the Leicester Green Party will chase them for a response.
If you would like to get involved with the Leicester Green Party please get in contact.