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Lewisham councillors call for closure of Telegraph Hill Upper Park in Nunhead after reports of “widespread human soiling”

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors are pushing for a park closure after “littering on a festival scale,” and “widespread human soiling”.

In a letter, Cllr Paul Bell, Cllr Joan Millbank and Cllr Luke Sorba, who all live in Telegraph Hill ward in Lewisham, said Telegraph Hill Upper Park, in Nunhead, has been plagued by noise late into the night, overcrowding, people breaking social distance rules, broken glass, fires and damage to trees.

They wrote: “Despite the best efforts of Glendale, council officers, the safer neighbourhood team and many public-spirited local volunteers to keep the park clean and safe, regretfully the situation in Telegraph Hill Upper Park continues to escalate.”

After speaking to residents and park users they felt “only radical action” would be effective, and unanimously decided to ask that the park be closed.

The letter continued: “We have already received extra refuse services (but temporary toilets have been ruled out as they would be quickly overwhelmed, are vectors of Covid-19 and might attract even more people some of whom are already travelling from long distances).

“We have examined requesting the Upper Park be closed daily at 6pm as a temporary emergency measure.

“However, the feedback we received was that clearing the park could potentially put staff at risk, as some users may prove reluctant to leave and it might lead to people simply transferring to the Lower Park.

“Consequently, we are unanimously recommending to the leadership of the Council’s Covid-19 response team that the Upper Park be closed round the clock and not be re-opened before July 4 when bars and pubs and restaurants and other entertainment venues open.

“We sincerely regret, should this be implemented, the real inconvenience to countless blameless park users, particularly at this time of year and during a lockdown when public green spaces in Lewisham are so precious, but at present we see no other option.”

A council spokeswoman said the authority had “no intention” of closing parks, but was calling on people to behave responsibly.

She also said there will be increased security in the park.

She said: “Telegraph Hill has been incredibly busy throughout the lockdown.

“Warm weather and new relaxed rules around meeting with friends and family has seen hundreds gather in this popular park.

“We have no intention of closing Lewisham’s parks, but reports of overcrowding, anti-social behaviour and littering are shocking, and we are calling on everyone to behave responsibly.

“We continue to work with local police who patrol regularly. With immediate effect there will be increased security patrols in place at Telegraph Hill from 6pm until midnight, seven-days-a-week.

“Extra cleaning has already been introduced and further bins will now be placed in the park to be collected daily. We will continue to review the situation to ensure everyone’s safety.

“We’re all using our green spaces more than ever for quiet walks, family picnics, exercise and meeting friends, please be considerate.

“Take your litter home, avoid playing loud music and please don’t assume toilets will be open in parks.

“Social distancing rules are clear – keep your distance if you go out, two metres from others where possible.

“It is important we respect these rules, not just for our own safety but for the safety of everyone using our parks.”

Pictured top: Telegraph Hill Upper Park in Nunhead

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