HAVERING Council has been branded “totally incompetent” after “failing to make good on their promises” regarding Harrow Lodge Park.
Despite concerns being raised with the Council, ward councillors, MP Andrew Rosindell and head of culture and leisure Simon Parkinson over the last two years, local man Paul Polain claims Havering Council have “lied, denied and ignored” the park’s issues.
Harrow Lodge Park is one of the Borough’s largest green spaces and hosts community events including the annual Havering Show.
Mr Polain, 42, lives on Hartland Road next to the park and has been contacting Havering Council for years trying to get them to recognise problems, which he says include overflowing sewers, vermin infestations and an “unsafe” meadowlands policy.
Another local resident, 67-year- old Malcolm Duncan, spoke to the Enquirer previously about Harrow Lodge Park (Thursday, 18 July edition). He has since said:“Do I think there is any change in the park? The short answer is no. In my view, the general consensus is that the situation is no better.”
These ongoing problems have been highlighted weeks after hundreds of birds died in the park due to botulism, which Mr Polain says can in part be attributed to the broken fountain and filthy lake.
In an email dated 28, August 2012 Mr Polain pointed out to Cllr Michael White that the lake “has started to go stagnant in the hot weather and this will kill wildlife if it’s not repaired soon”.
One of the biggest issues residents have with the park is the number of overflowing drains, which Mr Polain says “spew out raw sewage whenever it rains”.
According to Mr Polain, when he mentioned this issue Council officials said it had been reported to Thames Water in March 2012 but they were unable to give details of the report. 17 months later the problems persist.
Mr Polain was further angered when a Council spokesperson told the Enquirer that no drainage issues had been reported prior to the 18 July article.
The Council claims they were talking about a different set of sewers behind the boathouse at the park and “sorry for any confusion”.
A spokesperson said: “This is something that we had not received any reports about previously, and we said that we would investigate. We have, however, received reports about sewage problems on the Abbs Cross Lane side of the park.
“This is something we have spoken to Thames Water about on more than one occasion.
“When there is an issue with overflowing sewage, which happens when there is heavy rain, Thames Water representatives do attend and resolve the problem when reported. “
Mr Polain replied: “This must be the only Council in the country with seemingly no power to do anything.”
Havering Council’s meadow- lands policy in the park means that large areas of grass are left uncut to encourage wildlife, a scheme which has long been a bone of contention between park-users and the Council. Mr Polain believes poor management of the policy has led to a lack of fire safety and a huge rat population, which is spilling over into residents’ gardens and homes.
The Council informed Mr Polain that there has been no evidence connecting the vermin problem with the meadows, and a few months ago a frustrated Mr Polain took a radical step to get council officials to take heed and personally delivered one of the dead rats from his garden to the Town Hall.
Mr Polain continued: “We didn’t suffer with rodent problems before the Council decided to stop cutting the grass. This has since become a serious health concern and, along with Council workers failing to cut a firebreak between houses and the long grass, is making the area unsafe to live in.”
Cllr Steven Kelly, deputy leader of the Council, said: “While we know that there is always more that can be done, we have made a significant investment in Harrow Lodge Park over the last five years, almost £400,000 in fact, with an additional £200,000 spent on general maintenance.
“Also, we have always acted on complaints – however, there may not always be an instant solution.” Mr Polain responded:“I cannot believe this, there have been no improvements – clearly money is being wasted left, right and centre.
Mr Polain is currently trying to arrange a public meeting with the Council.