Return visits to both Finsbury and Downhills Park were made on the 21st December 2018.
Although the judge acknowledges the progress made at Downhills, they still regard it as "at lowest end of the range of Green Flag Award scores" and recommend strategic investment. Read their report here
For Finsbury Park, the judge has stronger words. The full report is here and is a grim read. They highlight how the use of the park as an entertainment venue has caused serious damage
Finsbury Park is a flagship park in the borough of Haringey and currently it is in very poor condition. The events held in the park each year, and the day to day usage of the site cause damage in the short, medium and long term. The repairs that are currently being carried out on site appear to be ad-hoc and not part of a long term management and maintenance plan. In the early 2000’s this site received significant investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund and it is disappointing for this Judge to revisit this site and see this investment has not been built upon.
and they conclude that,
The seriousness of the failings within Finsbury Park goes far beyond the challenges raised by the Green Flag Award. Not only does it not fulfil even the basic demands of the Green Flag Award it is far below the standards even the most understanding of the general public should be demanding. An exceptionally depressing and worrying experience all round.
Naturally LBH have again challenged the findings, deeming them "unfair" and their response and a comment from the cabinet member responsible, Kirsten Hearn, can be found here
The feedback is common sense and it’s plain to see that the park is in a dreadful state. Ask anyone.
The councils proteststations are an own goal.
We frequently go to Downhills Park which is situated right next to our school and next to another school, too. Around 2 Jan it looked as badd as I’ve never seen it, especially around the rugby pitch. It looked like it had not been attended by the cleaning team for ages! Overflowing dog bins were one issue, but also household items dumped and generally rubbish lying around everywhere. I first posted on the Tidy Up Tottenham FB group and 2 days later, on the Friday sent a Complaint to Haringey as nothing happened. I’ve still not heard. It’s now looking better again but it looked horrendous, especially considering kids would do their school run on the Monday.
months ago I also reported that people frequently litter bread at the entrance near the HArris Academy. I was reassured that they’d consider putting a ‘do not feed the birds’ sign up. Nothing.
there’s a consultation for yet another outdoor gym which we don’t need as there’s one in the adjacent Lordship Rec. don’t plonk more metal in our park, maintain the existing park so kids and others can enjoy it. And maybe give us another picnic table next to the playground as the other one collapses 2 years ago.
In terms of litter i would pay tribute to the rugby club boys whose warm up involves litter picking.
Maybe Councillor Hearn should take a walk down the road and look at Clissold Park if she wants to know what a Green Flag park that has received Heritage Lottery funding should look like. I appreciate that council budgets are strapped, but if Hackney can do it, why can't Haringey. I've read the to-and-fro arguments around the festival events in Finsbury Park, but have to say that the wall around the site was reminiscent of a prison, as per the attached image, and had clearly been there for some time as a path had been worn in the grass alongside it. It's a shame, because both Finsbury Park and Downhills Park have huge potential.
Clissold has a warden and closes at night too.
The grass is also a bit greener there :-)
I don’t think the issues that I witnessed after New Years were created at night. There was sheer negligence visible.
Finsbury park certainly didn't receive an appropriate level of maintenance and cleaning throughout the summer last year but there's been a noticeable (to a frequent visitor) improvement in more recent months.
The park is by no means perfect but the KBT report seems unduly harsh and doesn't appear to take into account any of the work done since the initial mystery shop visits, the planned investments, or even the fact that the latest visit was conducted on the Friday before Christmas when the parks team would probably have had staff on leave.
There's a fair bit of nitpicking (playground surfacing not colour matched, some bins are not perfectly vertical, poster cases could be better organised) and exaggerated claims that don't really reflect the reality at the time of the visit (horticultural standards in very poor condition, vast expanses of compacted mud, "the entire park... with paths and road ways in poor condition") so it's hardly surprising that the council is challenging the validity of these reports.
First Tip: Don't pick a fight with the umpire. Saying it's not fair and "You cannot be serious!" is not going to improve the borough's public image.
Second Tip: Keep Britain Tidy are acting as critical friends. Take the rough with the smooth; the awards with the critique. Haringey are very keen to boast about green flag status. So when standards are said to be dipping, thank the judges and work with them and with the Friends groups and the Park staff - to raise the standards with a funded action plan that's realistic. That's the grown-up response.
Third Tip: If reports are kept secret or their release is delayed, it starts to look like a cover-up, even if that's not the intention. Publish as soon as possible and get busy with action plan and actions.
Last Tip: Don't play 'our-expert-is-better-than-your-expert'. And never when the issue is the safety of children's play equipment in parks.
I won't even bother to offer a tip to Joe Ejiofor. His unfunny clowning at the Council meeting about losing Green Flags was a new low. Even for him.
Nonsense Alan. These reports were released with the obvious intention of shaming the council - not so much a critique as a hatchet job, hardly a good basis for a "critical friends" relationship. They might as well have FoFP running the assessment scheme.
The playground safety game isn't "our expert is better than your expert" when the latter doesn't qualify.
That's a truly damning report of Finsbury.
I don't have an issue with the Council engaging in a dialogue the KBT about the ratings, but the tone of the Haringey response does sound very much more like a pretty clumsy attempt at reputation management than an indication of a willingness to set about making genuine improvements.
The report comes across as one which was written to fit a pre-determined outcome, with some very dubious methodology, exaggeration and nitpicking. The council could have handled this better and more promptly but they are absolutely right to challenge it.
The minutes and presentations from the recent Stakeholder Group meeting set out the improvements they are investing in over the next couple of years.