Park strife for Rouken Glen Friends

An illustration of FORG's community garden plans
An illustration of FORG's community garden plans

Plans for Rouken Glen’s new community garden may be at risk amid a dispute between volunteers and East Renfrewshire council.

Work on the £50,000 Friends of Rouken Glen Park (FORG) project is well underway following a £1.15 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2012 to improve the park, as well as a further £1m from ERC.

The plan was to create a sensory garden — in particular, for those with special needs.

However, following its latest meeting, FORG committee members have decided not to seek re-election, blaming council obstruction.

The Friends group has been asked to pay back £600 of a community grant from 2011, and told that providing electrical power to the garden would cost more than £24,500.

Chairman Gerald Levin told The Extra: “We are all disillusioned and feel we have been badly treated. We are volunteers who love Rouken Glen and are prepared to do all we can to make it a more attractive place.

“Originally, we were led to believe by the council that access to electrical power would not be a major problem and were basing our plans on being able to to use that for lighting and possibly powering a fountain in a pebble garden.

“Now, we are faced with the choice of going without electrical power, or some of the features we had hoped would make the garden especially attractive to disabled users.”

Treasurer Ross McKemmie added: “The council is now demanding payment of over £600 for a grant in 2011, claiming that the grant had conditions attached and that this money — which the group does not have — be paid.”

A council spokeswoman responded: “Due to the location of the garden, provision of water and electricity is particularly difficult.

“Despite advice from the council that a power supply to the proposed community garden would be very expensive, FORG were keen to include this. A full investigation on the provision of services was carried out by the council free of charge.

“There are conditions around community grants, made clear to all who benefit from support — one states that the council will provide 38 per cent of total project costs.”

She added: “There is no reason to suggest that the funding for the community garden is at risk. The statement issued by FORG is disappointing, but we are committed to resolving the issues.”

The Friends group has called a special general meeting on July 29 to make a decision on dissolving FORG.

Mr Levin added: “We are all concerned that the good of our lovely park should come first, and I am sure that whatever happens, many of the present committee members will continue, as individual volunteers, to support initiatives to improve Rouken Glen.”