Council leader calls for action against drug dealers in Staveley park
A council leader has called for measures to tackle drug dealing and improve disabled accessibility at a crime-plagued Chesterfield park.
Paul Mann, leader of Staveley Town Council and councillor for Hollingwood and Inkersall Ward, held a meeting to discuss plans for Ringwood Park in Brimington with Chesterfield Borough Council’s leisure department and fellow councillor, Ruth Perry.
Cllr Mann said one of his main aims was to secure CCTV coverage to clamp down on drug-related crime taking place in the park.
“I’ve had alleged reports of drug dealing in the park, I’ve reported this to the police, and I tried to arrange a meeting with the new Police and Crime Commissioner to see if there’s funding for CCTV, but this was declined.
“Because of the lack of maintenance, and it being overgrown, it’s become a haven for people to hide and do as they wish. They definitely need cameras in the car park, at the top of the lake, and near the main road.
“We know the police can’t be here, there and everywhere, but with the amount of reports I’m getting, it has to be big enough to target.”
Andrea Thompson, 53, said she and her husband have seen what appeared to be drug deals, and feels the park is becoming increasingly dangerous.
“I don't feel the car park is safe to leave the car, I don't like these people hanging about and they make me nervous.
“It's very lonely at times and feels like a no-go area. It's clear these people aren't pedalling sweeties. The police have been involved previously but they can't be there all the time so they're no deterrent.
“On occasions there have been fights amongst teenagers, there's broken beer bottles about and it's generally unpleasant. It's a great shame. I'm 53 and have used this park all my life, but it seems very unsafe now.”
Stephanie Slater, 44, said her child had been attacked in the park recently, and echoed the councillor's calls for increased safety measures.
“My 11-year-old was assaulted at Ringwood Park recently. We don’t feel safe in the park - there needs to be CCTV, lighting and more police patrols.”
Another key issue at Ringwood Park is accessibility. Cllr Mann said much of the park was unsuitable for use by disabled people, and improvements to the pathways were needed.
“There’s a nice path from the car park to the lake that then stops. If you’re in a wheelchair and you live in Brimington, you’d have to go all the way to the bottom entrance to get onto any form of decent accessible path, and then it will only take you 200 yards to the lake.
“The rest of the path is dirt track, roots sticking out from the trees. It’s a hazard, and it’s the same on the path going down the side of the lake- it’s not accessible to disabled people without difficulty.”
Cllr Mann also said he wanted greater investment into the park’s BMX track, and was encouraging collaboration between Chesterfield Borough Council and Staveley Town Council to achieve this.
“The BMX track needs some big investment – I fear we might lose the facility because of the lack of investment. With the GB team’s success in the Olympics, and as an outdoor activity, we should be looking at this.
“I raised this meeting to try and get the two authorities to start working together because in the past I’ve felt like there’s been a locked door between the two, where they aren’t listening.”
Local resident Simon Owen said the BMX track was important to the community, both for the financial boost it could potentially bring, and the benefits it has for children in the area.
“I don’t think local businesses know what having a national track would do, not just for the local community and business, but for Chesterfield itself.
“My lad wants to race BMX and he’s not bad at it, we went to an event in Manchester and there were 400 riders and possibly 1000 spectators there, just think what that brings in for local business.
“Think of the kids having somewhere safe to ride and meet up with mates, and you never know, it might be a Chesterfield rider who wins gold in 2024.”
Residents also expressed concerns that not enough was being done to maintain other facilities in the park, such as the play equipment.
Kelly Shorten, 40, said: “The park is unsafe, the equipment is rusting, the floor is uneven and a trip hazard.”
Lesley Rudram, 61, said: “The play equipment is the same equipment that my daughter used - she’s now 29.
“There are no toilet facilities at all, I’ve seen people from the BMX meetings using the wooded area as a toilet when I walk my dog - the whole area is looking sad and unloved.”
What do you think? Email your experiences of using the park and how you think it could be improved to [email protected]