Parks have become the epicentre of our social lives now we can finally meet up with friends and family in outdoor spaces. But one much-loved park in Lewisham may close temporarily after reports of anti-social behaviour there.
Three local councillors have raised concerns that Telegraph Hill Upper Park, a popular slice of green between Nunhead and New Cross in Lewisham, may need to close until bars and pubs are able to open again to keep it ‘clean and safe’.
The councillors for Lewisham’s Telegraph Hill ward, Paul Bell, Joan Millbank and Luke Sorba, said they can ‘confirm evidence’ in the park of ‘overcrowding and breaching of social distance rules, noise pollution until late into the night, littering on a festival scale, broken glass, widespread human soiling, fires and damage to trees and shrubs.’ They also said they had been notified by police last weekend about ‘an unlicensed music event’ there.
In a joint statement responding to complaints about behaviour in the park, the councillors said: ‘We unanimously feel that the point has been reached when only radical action will be effective.
‘We are unanimously recommending to the leadership of the Council’s Covid-19 response team that the Upper Park be closed round the clock and not be re-opened before July 4th when bars and pubs and restaurants and other entertainment venues open.
‘We sincerely regret, should this be implemented, the real inconvenience to countless blameless park users, particularly at this time of year and during a lockdown when public green spaces in Lewisham are so precious, but at present, we see no other option.’
The government has previously stressed the importance of keeping parks and green spaces open wherever possible, with communities secretary Robert Jenrick saying in a Downing Street daily briefing: ‘People need parks. That’s why I made it clear to councils that all parks must remain open.’
A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: ‘We have no intention of closing Lewisham’s parks, but reports of overcrowding, anti-social behaviour and littering are shocking, and we are calling on everyone to behave responsibly.’
They also explained that there will be increased security patrols in place at Telegraph Hill between 6pm and midnight, seven days a week, with immediate effect. Extra cleaning has also been introduced and more bins will be added to the park.
‘We will continue to review the situation to ensure everyone’s safety,’ the spokesperson added.
If you do head out to the park this weekend with your takeaway pints, do try and keep to social-distancing rules as much as possible and maybe take this handy map of open public loos in London with you!