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Lottery bid hits hitch

Chapel's Memorial Park

AN AMBITIOUS million pound lottery bid to upgrade Chapel's Memorial Park for its centenary in 2020 has had to be scaled down due to a funding hitch.

The scheme, which was drawn up by the Parish Council with assistance from the Friends of Chapel Park and the Bowling club, included a new skate park, a marked football pitch, the restoration of the original park railings, low level lighting, a measured mile with adult exercise equipment and the upgrading of the Bowling Green Pavilion.

The bid was originally submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund last November but following advice from officials, the Parish Council withdrew the plans in order to come up with a more traditional lighting scheme and to compile a booklet about the park describing its heritage and local people's memories of it.

Memorial Park

Then, in February, just as the bid was about to be resubmitted, the Parish Council heard the devastating news that the Parks for People Fund was being withdrawn. Coun. Mike Evanson said: "We called a meeting with them and they told us that the money coming from the sale of lottery tickets was diminishing so they were cutting funding to these projects." He added: "As we were at an interim stage they said they would still accept the bid but with a reduced value of £500,000."

The scaled back plans will be submitted to the General Heritage Lottery Fund at the end of May concentrating on landscaping, restoring the perimeter railings and improving the lighting. Coun. Evanson said: "We had hoped to replace the skate park but now it will probably come down to renovating it and keeping it safe."

Meanwhile Coun. Evanson and Coun. Harrison have been investigating other funding streams and in March put in a bid to the 'Rethinking Parks Fund’ which encourages the use of digital technology to help sustain and support parks. If successful they hope they will still be able to install the outdoor gym equipment but with the possibility of linking it with devices such as smartphones which would allow users to access information about other local heritage sites and events.

Feedback on the plan is being sought from the School Council at Chapel High School and Coun. Evanson said:  "We want to tap into the school to get their ideas and also to see if this idea of digital linking has any merit with the children and if so we will pursue it."