Cash boost for historic park

A campaign to secure the restoration of the historic Dock Park in Dumfries has received a grant of £991,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards regeneration.

Councillors for the area Colin Smyth and John Martin have been lobbying for Dumfries and Galloway Council to restore the park after years of neglect and vandalism. The funding will go partly to pay for improvements, including restoring the currently closed bandstand, creating a new entrance to the park and improving the play areas, with the council now required to provide match funding.

Mr Smyth said: “It was May 2009 when we first started the campaign to get the council to apply for Heritage Lottery Funding to help restore the park and this announcement has made all that campaigning since worthwhile.

“To say this once historic park has been neglected by the council would be an understatement and it’s a real tragedy to see the state it has fallen into. Since attendants were removed, the main public toilets have been closed, the tennis pavilion demolished, the bandstand is out of bounds and Kelly’s shelter is in a sorry state.

“This funding will help make the park the jewel in the crown of Dumfries again and will be warmly welcomed by many people. Despite its poor condition and facilities, the park is still widely used by local people and I believe it can play a major role in the wider regeneration of our town, by helping attract more visitors once it has proper facilities. We will be keeping up the campaign to make sure the council come up with the match funding and work starts on the restoration as soon as possible”.

Councillor Martin added: “Over the past few years we have been inundated by fed up local residents reporting the latest vandalism in the park. This announcement is great news not only for everyone who uses the park, but in particular local residents who have had to look on at first hand at the way the park has declined in recent years.

“It is crucial now that, as part of the restoration, we see CCTV cameras installed as there is no point spending nearly £2 million on the park only to see it suffer more vandalism.

“Obviously, the council will now need to come up with the same sum of money as the Heritage Lottery Fund and at a time of cuts some local people might question whether it is the best use of resources. However, given that it is match funding, and we would lose this grant if the council don’t find the funds, I think there will be a lot of support for the council meeting their side of the bargain and restoring our historic park.”