The Friends of Manor Farm Park have always enjoyed a good working relationship with the Parks Department and that relationship has strengthened and flourished over the last two or three years. Evidence of this can be seen throughout the park: the new notice boards, the steps in the slope between the Great Meadow and the Millennium Wood, the new Main Entrance sign and the first stage of the clearing of the wood above the Weir. None of these things would have been undertaken by the Parks Department alone because, as has been said, there were no funds available. They only became a reality when the Friends applied for, and was granted, the funding to pay for them.
For a number of years footpaths throughout the park have been deteriorating at an alarming rate. Conditions underfoot were dangerous, with larger and larger areas becoming waterlogged after rain and tree roots were encroaching on them. The survey conducted in September/October 2011 had shown that the poor state of the footpaths was cause for concern among a large percentage of park users.
So, in late 2011 when the City Council alloted a substantial amount of funding to the Parks Department for repairs and improvements, the path infrastructure in Manor Farm Park was considered a priority case for attention. Unfortunately there was no time for any kind of consultation; Phase I had to be completed before the end of March, meaning the work had to begin as soon as weather permitted. Objecting to the areas of improvement we knew would be unacceptable to some park users would have meant waiting until a similarly large sum of funding again became available before any repairs could be carried out by the Parks Department. It was felt such objections would not be in the best interest of the majority of park users.
Clearly, 3m wide swathes of orange or pale coloured dolomite would not have been in keeping with the general ambiance of the park and the Department, being aware of our wishes, were only too willing to agree that narrower (approx. 2m), tarmac paths would be preferable; after all, this was a 'repair where possible, otherwise renew' type project and not, as some users seemed to believe, one more stage of the major park-linking project, Merritt's Brook Green Way. The only exception to the 2m width is the path linking the Main Entrance to Lovell Close; made wider to allow access for vehicles like the Park Ranger's Land Rovers that tow a large trailer during maintenance work. It was foreseen that it would always be necessary for larger vehicles to have access to carry out repairs to bridges and fencing, as can be in these photographs.