ALBERT PARK: Plea for money to go towards Middlesbrough park
A FOUNTAIN without water and “cracking walls” at one of Teesside’s showpiece parks have sparked fresh concerns.
But council chiefs say the cherished site will be “reinvigorated” in forthcoming plans.
Efforts to restore the Old Town Hall, at Middlehaven, have gathered the attention of Middlesbrough Council leaders in recent months.
But Newport councillor Chris Cooke believed another historic site south of the A66 needed more investment at the latest overview and scrutiny board.
“I’m all for protecting heritage but one of my big concerns is the state of Albert Park,” said Cllr Cooke.
“Inside there, there is a clipboard about the fountain.
“And every day a member of staff has to write on that clipboard that the fountain doesn’t work.
“I’m just wondering how demoralising that must be for them to just have to do that every day – and to look around the offices and the buildings to see all the paint peeling and the walls cracking.”
Albert Park opened in 1868 and has grade II listed status.
The 72-acre site saw a revamp more than 15 years ago – with £4.4m from Middlesbrough Council, Northumbrian Water and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
A new visitor centre was created as part of the four-year scheme with improvements to the lake and a raft of new facilities.
Flood defences have been bolstered at the park in recent months as part of wider efforts to safeguard homes downstream with a new debris screen.
Cash has been set aside to restore the 175-year-old Old Town Hall out of Middlesbrough’s £21.9m Towns Fund allocation from the Government.
Cllr Cooke said this was “great” – but Albert Park was nearer the modern day town centre and needed extra cash.
“We should really look to secure that and protect it,” he added.
Cllr Mieka Smiles, executive member for communities and education, agreed with the Labour member – and promised to look for extra cash.
“I myself have noticed that the fountain doesn’t work and we need it to be working,” she added.
“It’s lovely Albert Park – and it’s a shame there are bits which need improvement.
“I’ll absolutely pass that on and see what can be done in terms of getting funding.”
Albert Park opens every day from 7.30am until 7.30pm – and its toilets and cafe have now reopened.
Officials say the fountain has been decommisioned for the winter to prevent pipes freezing and splitting with efforts to get the fountain back working as soon as possible.
After the meeting, Cllr Smiles said: “Albert Park is one of the north’s finest Victorian jewels and we will always do our best to protect its heritage and invest in its future.
“For the last six months we have been working on exciting plans to reinvigorate the park and there’s been some excellent ideas that I hope to be able to share soon.”
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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