The Mayor of London has put forward extra funding for ten London parks, and it’s down to Londoners to vote for which ones we want to benefit. Islington has three parks on the list – but you only get one vote.
I’m voting for Barnard Park in Barnsbury. It was my local park when I lived on Hemingford Road. Created out a postwar bombsite, it’s home to football pitches, an under 5s group and the adventure playground as well as lots of greenspace. It’s also had problems with anti-social behaviour and vandalism. Local people have wanted to improve it for years, and the Council’s been working with community groups to come up with a masterplan – but it needs funding. Some money has come in from Thames Water, as compensation for their ring main works which saw some of the grass and paths relaid. There was also some income from the development of the old depot site alongside the park – a brownfield site used for housing. But now there’s a chance to get even more investment via this initiative. It’s a fantastic chance to fund the community plans, so well worth a vote.
Bunhill Fields in Finsbury is opposite the site where my Grandpa Ansell (dad’s dad) lived and worked. It’s a unique historic burial yard, attracting visitors from all over the world in pilgrimage to the graves of William Blake, John Bunyan and Daniel Defoe. They were all non-conformists, denied burial in consecrated churchyards, or preferring to be buried elsewhere. Bunhill Fields – a corruption of the word ‘bone hill’ – just outside the city of London boundary, was the ideal spot. Now it’s sandwiched between two historic chapels – Wesley’s Chapel on City Road and the Quaker Meeting House off Bunhill Row. It’s also a lovely oasis from the City bustle, and actually maintained by the Corporation of London.
At the other end of Islington is Elthorne Park at Archway. At one end of St John’s Way, it’s an island site and feels larger than it looks from the outside. In the middle of the park is the peace garden, dedicated to the memory of Nobel prize winner, Philip Noel-Baker. Appropriately, given Noel-Baker’s involvement in sport, Elthorne Park is also home to a boxing club, pitches and a trim trail. Earlier this year, the local councillors unveiled the improved pitch, but there’s more improvements that local people would like to see, including a new wildlife garden. That would fit well with the work of Sunnyside Gardens, an organic community garden just across the road.
Whichever you prefer, do vote for an Islington park! Full details on how to vote are here, and you have until 30 January to make your mind up…..