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Fears for Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park as gardeners are abolished

The Friends of Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park have voiced serious concerns about the future safety and upkeep of the much-used space when the current ranger-gardener service is cut.

Southwark Council plans to replace the staff based at GMH Park with a mobile gardener and an apprentice covering 20 open spaces across the north of the borough. 

Maureen Johnston, chair of the Friends of Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, has written to the council to set out the group's concerns.

She argues that the presence of staff based in the park provides reassurance to visitors and deters drug dealers and other criminals. 

Mrs Johnson also points out that the park is visited by many thousands of tourists each year who come to the Imperial War Museum

"Maintenance at a lower level than now will have a negative impact – the proper upkeep of the park contributes to an appreciation and judgement of our culture by overseas visitors," she says.   "Any fall in care will reflect adversely on Southwark Council."

Southwark Council insists that it is doing its best for local green spaces in spite of Government funding cuts.

"The council will ensure that the upkeep and the safety of this park, and all our others, is kept to as high a level as possible," says Cllr Barrie Hargrove, Southwark's cabinet member for the environment. 

"Despite the impact from the savings we're having to make in response to unprecendented Government cuts of £33 million in year one alone, we want to reassure all our park users that, through our new wardens service for example, safety in our parks will not be downgraded."

The Friends group has called a public meeting on Monday 28 March to discuss the proposed cuts. The meeting will be held at St Jude's Community Centre and starts at 7pm. 

The  group will also send a deputation to Southwark Town hall next week to address councillors at council assembly. 

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