May 25 2013 Latest news:
by John Phillips , Senior Reporter
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Barking Park boat users are down in the dumps after council chiefs were unable to hire the crafts to the public at the start of the summer season.
The pleasure boats have been a major attraction of the Victorian park but could still not be rented this week, despite the £7.5million regeneration of the open space being completed in May.
Tony Richards, 75, of the Friends of Barking Park, said: “It is regrettable. They used to provide a lot of pleasure to a lot of people.
“We’ve had some nice weather lately. It would be nice for people to have them.”
Families could hire motor boats at the park until around three years ago, according to Ray Armstead, who runs its miniature railway.
Mr Armstead criticised Barking and Dagenham Council, which decided to replace the “iconic” motor boats with rowing boats.
The boats had a walking speed of around four knots and could be hired without supervision.
He understands Barking Park was one of the last open spaces in England where people could hire motor boats.
Mr Armstead, 61, said: “The boats were an iconic feature of the park, certainly the motor boats.
“They advertised boats but this didn’t come to fruition.
“People come to the park to enjoy the amenities. If you take away the amenities people won’t come.”
The Post reported in June how council chiefs unveiled the revamped park after the multi-million Lottery-funded project.
The Labour council said on its website it planned to introduce a number of amenities including a boat hire facility as part of the Heritage Lottery project.
A council spokesman said yesterday: “We are still aiming to have boating on the lake for the start of the school holidays.
“We are currently finalising the details of our agreement with the boating operator.
“We also had to carry out some work to remove blanket weed from this part of the lake.
“Accelerated weed growth is common following the kind of works that were carried out on the Barking Park lake as part of the restoration project.”
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