VISITORS to Hartlepool’s Ward Jackson Park are urging council chiefs to repair a “beautiful” fountain which has been out of action for years.
The century-old water feature near to the duck pond in the park has stood dry since it broke down around five years ago, depriving thousands of visitors from seeing the “centrepiece” in all its glory, spraying water from the cherubs, flowers and lions which decorate it.
Councillor Ray Wells backed members of the public in saying the elaborate fountain should be repaired so it can be enjoyed by people of the town, and visitors from other parts of the region.
But council chiefs say the £40,000 repair bill to fix the fountain is not affordable in the current financial climate.
Coun Wells, who represents Park ward, said: “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for it to be repaired after this length of time. Ward Jackson Park is used by the majority of Hartlepudlians for a morning or afternoon out as a treat for the children, a walk, or even for exercise.
“What would round off a trip to the park more than having the fountain back in working order like it was in years gone by?”
He added: “I’m not suggesting we divert money from frontline services, but there are grants and money available that is being used on less important issues in the town.
“If the fountain was owned by a private individual, I’m sure the council would be telling them to get it repaired.”
Sixty-seven-year-old Veronica Nicholson, a former elderly accommodation warden, of The Parade, in West Park, agreed saying the fountain should be brought back into working order.
“I understand that the motor won’t work and that’s why it hasn’t been on,” she said.
“But surely the council could find money from somewhere or even get a grant to pay for it to be repaired.
“It’s such a shame because it’s beautiful. It’s a centrepiece of the park and I believe it’s over 100 years old so it’s a shame for it to be stood dry not doing what it’s supposed to be doing.”
Jackie Renwick, of Clavering Park, visits the park regularly with her two-year-old grandson Adam Stamper and says a working fountain would be a great feature for elderly and children alike.
“I think it should be on,” said the retired lecturer, and mum-of-three. My grandson is always asking why the water doesn’t come out, he’d love to see it working and I’m sure lots of children would. It’s also nice for older people to see when they’re walking through the park.
“In its current state people just use it to put their children in to run around it. It’s a shame when the council paid all that money to have it painted and done up. To then not have it working just seems rather pointless.”
Retired civil servant Olwen Gibbs, of Tunstall Court, said: “I use the park for running at least a couple of times a week and it would be very pleasant to see the water coming from the fountain.
“It’s a centrepiece of the park which I can remember from when I was growing up so it seems a real shame for it not to be working.”
Retired fork-lift truck driver Ken Fraser, 67, of Catcote Road, Hartlepool, who often brings his grandaughter Lidia Waddington, aged two, said: “I think it should be fixed. It would be nice for the little ones to see, and would look nice in the park.”
The father-of-three and grandad-of-two added: “It could be turned off on a night to stop older kids messing about in it.”
Ward Jackson Park, which opened with public money in July 1883, is listed in the National Register of Historic Parks & Gardens due to its collection of Victorian and Edwardian features including the fountain which was installed in 1902, the lodge house in 1883, the bandstand, in 1901, and the clocktower, in 1925.
A Hartlepool Council spokesman said: “The Ward Jackson Park fountain is a beautiful and historic structure, and I am sure everyone would wish to see it working .
“However, works costing around £40,000 would be needed to ensure its compliance with health and safety guidelines and given the difficult financial climate that the Council is and has been operating in for some time now, they simply cannot be justified as a priority.”
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