How a park in Doncaster is being transformed and reclaimed for families

Six months ago, Warmsworth Quarry Park was at the centre of concerns over anti-social behaviour.

There were reports of drug abuse, drinking, and even of a nuisance biker being injured in a crash there.

Gary Barker and Clarissa Jackson, of Warmsworth Environmental group,

Gary Barker and Clarissa Jackson, of Warmsworth Environmental group,

Residents were worried.

But a small group of volunteers were determined that the yobs would not win.

And now, after months of hard work, and a lot of help from Doncaster Council's parks staff, members of the Warmsworth Environmental Group believe that they are winning the battle.

The group was set up several years ago to try to keep the park in good condition. And when concerns were raised over the issue of antisocial behaviour, its members got to work.

Gary Barker and Clarissa Jackson, of Warmsworth Environmental group,

Gary Barker and Clarissa Jackson, of Warmsworth Environmental group,

For years, the dedicated nine-strong group has been carrying out work in the park. They have tidied flower beds, picked up rubbish and painted wood and metal work. They have cleared dog poo from the grass and the footpaths.

And after its members called for help, Doncaster Council's parks department has provided a boost. Over several weeks this year, it has sent its street scene staff into the park to make sure those who had been responsible for public nuisance at the park had nowhere to hide.

Trees were removed and overgrown bushes cut back. Now, although plenty of trees and greenery remain, the park is pruned, tidy, and, importantly, short on hiding spaces.

It was not just an exercise in taking things away. They also brought in plants that have been re-located from the roundabout at junction 36 of the A1(M), which has been grassed over.

It is not just the park where the group works. It has also worked to create flower beds next to roads in Warmsworth, and campaigned to get warnings against dog fouling stencilled onto the local pavements.

Among those taking part in the clear-up is Clarissa Jackson.

Clarissa joined the group two years ago after meeting its chairman, Christine Pattison.

She said there was still much planned by the group. It has money pledged for local improvements from the Canal and River Trust. And it is looking to apply for money from developers who are planning housing schemes on The Holt, and Warmworth Heights. They want to use that to by outdoor exercise equipment for the park.

The 44-year-old mum said: "The council has been working with us since we raised concerns over antisocial behaviour. They have done a lot here over the last few weeks. with the last element being when they sent a cherry picker to to the higher up work.

"As a group, we litter pick, we garden, and there's a woodland walk that we maintain. I often walk in the park and speak to people about anti-social behaviour. I just want the village to look nice.

"I find people see you in the park and they thank you for what you're doing. Without a doubt that makes it all worthwhile."

Gary Barker, a former miner who now works as a carer for his poorly wife, joined the group around the same time as Clarissa.

He joined because he did not like the amount of litter he saw when he walked his pet dog around the woodland walk in the area, and he has done work there.

"I do litter picking and branch lopping," he said. "There have been people dropping crisp packets and cans. We also get people dumping leaflets instead of delivering them.

"I once found around 300 empty beer cans. But that is where I walk my dog, so I want to do something about it.

"I like doing it, and it makes the environment better. I fit it around me caring."

For Clarissa, the effect of their work is clear, and she believes the levels of anti-social behaviour have fallen.

"I think anti-social behaviour has eased off," she said. "The issue had been people taking drugs and drinking. Most of the work has been done to reduce antisocial behaviour and cutting back the trees and bushes means the hiding places have been taken away.

"I think we're also starting to find that as we clean somewhere, it starts to stay cleaner for longer. And if it is clean, people don't drop as much litter. That makes us feel that we've having an effect."

It is not just the volunteers who can see a difference.

Warmsworth resident Sally Beech, aged 34, is a regular user of the park, taking her three year old son, Logan, who loves to ride his scooter there.

The BT worker said: "I've been living in Warmsworth all my life, and the difference for us having the park as it is now compared to how it was years ago is great.

"I feel that it's a much better place to take my son now, and I don't mind him running round here, in my sight.

"I can see the improvement. It was overgrown. Now they can go round and explore."

Green flag hopes

The next target for Warmsworth Environmental Group is to get green flag status.

The organisation is hoping to work towards the award, which recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces.

They believe it would help them get a gardener to look after the site.

Tree Replacement

Warmworth Environment Group is hoping to replace a rowan tree which was blown down in gales last year.

Chairman Christine Pattison said the park had lost a number of trees in the gales.

She said: "The environmental group has decided to replace at least one tree and hopes in the future we can more trees for the sake of our environment.