Park left in ‘shocking’ state as council searches for contractor to undertake repairs

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter 

Residents have described the state of a park’s facilities as ‘disgusting’ as their council struggles to find a contractor to carry out works.

Bromley council said no formal bids were received on the tender opportunity to replace a bridge in Kelsey Park, Beckenham.

The north and south bridges of the park have been closed for a number of years, with the authority agreeing to spend £567,000 on repairing the south bridge in the park at a meeting in November 2022.

But no plans have been outlined to address the park’s north bridge, with council documents stating the cost of maintaining and fixing both bridges could have stretched up to £1million. The authority confirmed a new tender process for the works to the south bridge was due to begin soon.

The North bridge in Kelsey Park (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

Gita Bapat, 58, has used Kelsey Park since she was a child. She said it was not practical to only repair one of the bridges in the park as people with incontinence or mobility issues may struggle to navigate the large space if they need to use the toilet facilities.

Ms Bapat said the north bridge has been left in a ‘shocking’ state, and would like to see the repairs for the south bridge beginning in the near future. She said the park has seen a state of decline for several years, and recalled when the water in the lake started becoming dirty.

She said: “It was filthy and it stank. It was quite common to see rats along here.”

Kelsey Park in Beckenham (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

Bromley council announced in September 2023 that it had committed £2million to support the health of waterbodies in its parks. The authority claimed Kelsey Park lake had been placed as a high priority for de-silting works which it hoped to have completed later this year.

Steve Scott, 54, who lives just off Kelsey Park, said he understood the budget constraints of the council but felt the cost of replacing the south bridge was “phenomenal” and the park was better maintained when the authority carried out works directly as opposed to using subcontractors.

He said: “The toilets are a disgrace and even the play park in there is very scruffy. My daughter would not use the toilets here, she said they’re disgusting. We’ve complained about that.”

The South bridge in Kelsey Park (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

Lib Dem councillor Chloe-Jane Ross, representing the Beckenham Town and Copers Cope ward, said she remembered Kelsey Park being the flagship park of the borough as a child. She said that she was trying find ways for Bromley council to creatively use existing budgets to bring the park back to its former glory.

Bromley council did not confirm whether the lack of formal bids to replace the park’s south bridge had delayed the project, which is planned to be completed in the summer of this year.

Conservative Councillor Will Rowlands, executive councillor for environment, said the authority would continue to work alongside the Friends of Kelsey Park group and share information with residents on progress being made.

The council also plans to use £20,000 from the Platinum Jubilee Grant to introduce a new community garden area to the park for planting and growing activities.

Pictured top: Gita Bapat at the north bridge of the park, which is not currently planned to be repaired (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

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