A community shows heart for park

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Rob GrovesA RALLY of community support for a town park has allowed a team of volunteers to fight on and continue their regeneration project.

Rob Groves, (right) who runs the Friends of Hardie Park in Stanford-le-Hope praised the response of the community in getting the team back on track in their development of the space, despite a break-in at the park’s cafe on 30 August.

Tools, a till and a television worth approximately £1,000 in total were stolen from the cafe leaving the team disheartened at such a blow.
Rob said: “We have had donations of £520 and people have offered to replace stuff. It has been a really great response from the community.”

Additionally, with the Old Regent Ballroom donating a till, and Smartline Electrical offering to fit their new lights without charge, the project has gained a new momentum from a range of people horrified at such a despicable crime.

The crime was all the more damaging due to Friends of Hardie Park planning on using the cafe as a key part of their plan to eventually take over the running of the park.

Rob said: “We are in negotiations at the moment about taking over the running of the park and obviously the cafe is key to that because it is about building a sustainable model to run the park.

“In a little time there won’t be any money left for parks. If we cannot afford a police force how can we afford to keep our grass cut?”

Yet, while Rob claimed the team were gutted following the theft, the community’s response has allowed them to bounce back even stronger than before.

He added: “We have shown that we are a resilient community and one that responds in the right way.

“People have come out of the woodwork and in the end good things can come out of this.”

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