McCrum made Solitude proposal

Solitude Park
Solitude Park

The Leader has learned that the proposal for a trial 24 hour opening of Solitude Park in August and September was brought forward by Councillor Junior McCrum, although Mr McCrum has denied it.

Minutes obtained by the Leader from the Council’s Policy and Resources committee meeting on June 23 revealed that the trial was recommended on the proposal of Councillor McCrum and seconded by Councillor Marie Hamilton who, in a further development, has said she is in favour of the 24 hour opening decision.

Mr McCrum said: “Although it was brought up it was not really discussed and I definitely did not propose this.

“I may have proposed the overall report and passed that the park be opened from 8am to 10pm but it wouldn’t be right that I proposed the 24/7 trial - definitely not.

“I have no recollection of it being discussed. It was the overall report I proposed.”

“No vote was taken at any time on this move and I knew nothing about it until I saw it in the papers.”

Despite this, the council minutes state: “Recommended on the proposal of Councillor McCrum, seconded by Councillor Hamilton, that Solitude Park opens for 24 hours per day during August and September as a trial.”

Last week Mr McCrum spoke of his fears that the move could lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour pointing out that £1.2m has been spent on the park’s redevelopment.

Mr McCrum said his concern surrounding vandalism issues at the park still remains.

“I have very strong views on the park and I’ll be looking into this proposal to see the right way of it,” he said.

Councillor Marie Hamilton, although unclear about circumstances surrounding the proposal, said she is happy about the trial.

“Some members of the public felt the park was closed too early and as the majority of the public behave responsibly we felt the trial should run.

“It’s not set in stone and if there are problems it can be stopped. We’re not saying it’s a definite.

“It’s just a trial and if you don’t try these things people will say you’re not prepared to give things a go.

“People need to be given responsibility and it’s important we don’t just make the assumption something will go wrong before it has.

“The police will be monitoring it but even before when the gates were closed, those who aren’t responsible could still easily get into the park anyway by climbing over the fence.”

The trial is now entering its fourth week.