One community group which has made a huge difference to the lives of thousands of people living in and around Beeston is the Friends of Cross Flatts Park.
Since its inauguration in late 1999, it has turned what was a run-down strip of waste ground into something which is fast becoming the oasis the village of Beeston deserves.
Founding member Councillor Angela Gabriel (Lab, Beeston and Holbeck) said: “Up to 19999 and 2000 the park was a dumping ground for rubbish, it was a no-go area, there were cars driven on there frequently and set alight, people dumped mattresses, there was dog dirt everywhere and motorbikes would whizz through, causing a danger to anyone.
“The friends group was started with a view to turning the park into something we could be proud of and we have achieved that. We started with clean-up days, which made a big difference, we campaigned to stop people letting their dogs foul the park, we installed railings around the perimeter, which stopped the cars and made it more difficult for the bikes and we began a series of events, including having bands play in the park several times a year.”
The friends group has also been responsible for applying for grants to tidy up the former tennis courts to create a multi-sports court, install outdoor gym equipment as part of a ‘trim trail’ and linking with other groups, such as Beeston in Bloom and Beeston Festival, which is held on the second Saturday in June and now attracts upwards of 10,000 people.
Coun Gabriel added: “Next on our list is the children’s play area and we are waiting to hear if our bid for £64,000 will be successful to extend the Watsonia building, where we want to create a stage for bands to play.”
Fellow committee member Alison Garthwaite, 65, who has lived in Beeston for 30 years, became involved with the group in 2000. She said: “It was absolutely miserable before the friends group started and we have achieved a lot but we want to achieve so much more. We have big plans to improve the park further.
“One of the biggest events is the dog show, held on the first Sunday in July, which this year has 79 entrants.
“Of course it makes a big difference to the area in general, it means people can be proud of it, it improves the health of people because they can go there to exercise – beforehand, it was not a place you could let children play. Now it is somewhere to be proud of but we want to make it even better still.”
Becoming a friend of Cross Flatts Park is easy – it costs just £5 to join and £5 per year thereafter – members receive newsletters and can take part in events.
Contact the Friends of Cross Flatts Park via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or contact Alison on 0113 271 2460.