NGS Thinks...

June 2018 – Guest editorial: Friends of Victoria Park

For this month’s ‘NGS Thinks…’ we’re handing over to Cathie Russell of Friends of Victoria Park, who has been in touch with the worrying news that Glasgow City Council intends to grass over key original, 130-year-old flower beds.

Given the current neglect of the historic (and unique and tourist-worthy) Fossil Grove, it’s concerning that other parts of this much-loved park are threatened. Please consider supporting their cause at their demonstration at 2pm on Sunday 24th June. In the meantime, over to Cathie:

The Friends of Victoria Park are campaigning against Glasgow City Council’s plans to grass over 28 of the main flower beds in the formal gardens at the end of this season ‘unless volunteers take them on’. The beds which are to go form part of a landscape that is listed by Historic Environments Scotland, one of very few in the city with this recognition.

The City Council is arguing that the remainder of the beds will be better maintained, but the Friends argue that it is the scale of the gardens which were established when the park was built 130 years ago that should be preserved. They also fear that if this cut goes ahead, it is only a matter of a year or two till the remaining flower beds disappear too.

We have already lost all the planting that used to be done at the bowling greens and in the Fossil Grove, but this really is the final straw. There are three very good reasons why Glasgow should not go ahead with this plan:

  • It is a slap in the face for the volunteers who have already done a lot of work and applied for funding to establish fernery in an effort to improve the historic Fossil Grove which has gone right downhill since the Council abandoned any gardening there. With volunteers directing all their efforts to do something with that, it’s obvious we can’t help with the flower beds too and the Council must know this.
  • It will get the new Charity that has been proposed by all the voluntary and community groups working with the Council and Glasgow Life through the Victoria Park Action Group to seek new funding for improvements at the park off to an extremely depressing start. It is raising anxiety that the Council will simply be turning to the new Trust to offload more work while providing zero resources and the improvement plan will disappear in an effort to simply maintain what we already have.
  • It’s time that Land and Environmental Services recognised the value of Victoria Park and its historic landscape. To grass the flower beds would be nothing short of an act of civic vandalism and citizens deserve better.

The move has also been criticised by Trade Unions. John Boyle of Unison in Glasgow explained: “While we support volunteer and campaign groups being involved in supporting community activities in parks, we oppose any proposals that put the responsibility for maintaining them on to unpaid groups. Maintaining the Parks is the council’s responsibility, carried out by suitably paid and trained workers.

The Friends of Victoria Park is now seeking support from organisations and residents across the area to write to the Council and their local members urging a moratorium on the decision to grass over the beds.

A demonstration is also planned at the gardens at 2pm on Sunday 24 June.

We are keen to sit down with the Council to explore steps that could be taken to make the existing lay out in the formal gardens easier to maintain, for example with more herbaceous planting, but we are determined to save this magnificent legacy for future generations.

For further information, please contact