Hundreds sign petition for play improvements at a ‘hidden gem’ in north Bristol

Campaigners are hoping to raise funds to provide new play equipment and create a space for the whole community to enjoy

A campaign group in north Bristol is working hard to raise awareness of their pact to inject some life into the little-known Eastfield Park.

The park, situated between Henleaze, Southmead and Westbury on Trym, has fallen into disrepair and the campaign group is fighting with the council to fund new play equipment, benches and to make it more community-friendly.

One of the main problems with the park is that the area of open space, although something of a hidden gem in the urban surroundings, has remained fairly unknown to many since 1989 when it was formed.

It’s nestled between the communities of ​​Home Ground, Clover Ground and Comb Paddock. “A lot of people don’t know it’s called Eastfield Park,” says campaign group member Carolyn Clitheroe. “Lots of people walk through it but they don’t know that’s what it’s called. People get confused with Easton, but this is in Westbury.”

Residents are trying to raise awareness of the petition

It’s actually a large park that has been in the area since 1989, but the problem is that the play equipment has been there since then and has never been maintained or improved.

“It’s rusting, bits of it are falling apart and off, and bits of it have been removed,” says Carolyn. “It’s not very safe and is definitely a bit of an eyesore.”

Ms Clitheroe goes on to tell me that there have been things such as a skateboard park that was removed, and then benches that were put in and removed, then put back in by the local community and then removed by the council.

“We’ve also had issues with bins where they have been taken away because somebody was putting their household refuse in the public bins, so we now don’t have any bins in the area at all or a dog poo bin,” she says.

Eastfield Park play area needs repairing

Ms Clitheroe explains how it’s a catch-22 situation whereby the council suggests that nobody uses the park and that it attracts teenagers who make too much noise. Half the problem, they believe, is that there is nowhere to sit with no benches and a feeling of it being uninviting.

“There are similar parks in nearby and similar areas that are being used,” says Ms Clitheroe. “There may be the occasional bad behaviour here but we see that as a call for more input for teenagers, rather than removing everything all together which turns it into an area that feels abandoned and attracts antisocial behaviour.”

The campaign group, Friends of Eastfield Park, was established three months ago and meets to discuss the issues surrounding the park, formed a Facebook Group and a Whatsapp Group and has hosted a very successful community picnic.

They’ve also formed a petition, which so far has over 500 signatures, and they are trying to get up to 1000 to be able to present it to the council to show that there is a community interest in protecting and improving the park. The group has already been successful in winning 80 shrubs and trees from the Queens Canopy Fund.

The campaign group would like to fund some new play equipment

So, what exactly do they want to achieve with the petition? “We would like some new play equipment, something for the teenagers, and then some benches and bins, a new planting schedule, and a community gardening scheme,” explains campaign group member Carolyn Clitheroe.

“We’d like for people to be able to use their park, take their children there, enjoy some outdoor healthy time outside, but to meet other members of the community so that we are more resilient as a community.

Ms Clitheroe and the rest of the campaigners feel strongly that the park has the power to change and serve the local community quite a lot. “We’ve got quite an unusual mix of people here so we have social housing, privately-owned housing, we’ve got professionals and we’ve got people who have never been able to work for one reason or other,” she says.

“We’ve also got different nationalities. I think we have ten nationalities represented at our picnic, and we’ve got different ages so it’s a perfect set-up for creating some really good community spirit and resilience for any future issues that might come up.”

Defiant families have also begun to revitalise the park with signs, bird boxes and a bug hotel made by local children, so this is something that people can get involved with to show the council that the community is serious about making it a nicer place.

“We’d like there to be more events and participation in the future in planting and planning for the park,” says Ms Clitheroe.