No longer friends at Rouken Glen

editorial image

Voluntary group Friends of Rouken Glen Park has disbanded as a result of an ongoing financial argument with East Renfrewshire Council.

The group — formed in 2010 in preparation for the park’s Heritage Lottery Funding bid — was formally dissolved at a special general meeting on Tuesday amid claims that members had been misled by the local authority.

FoRG had planned to create a sensory garden within the park, costing £50,000 from a £2 million funding boost provided by the lottery funding and the council.

However the group claims that the garden — designed in particular for those with special needs — was meant to include electrical power, which the council later stated would cost half the budget, at £24,500.

Former chairman Gerald Levin told The Extra: “The final straw was the council’s insistence that we repay £600 of a community grant from 2011 — money we do not have and which we dispute should be paid back anyway. However, members decided just to give FoRG’s remaining unallocated funds to the council.”

Former secretary Ross McKemmie added: “During discussions, it became clear that the council was still insisting on the repayment of the money they claim we owe.

“It also became clear that an electricity supply was the only practical way to power garden machinery on site.

“Electricity was required to power things like tree lighting and fountains which were important features of the existing plans.

“Now we know how much an electricity supply would eat into the budget, it would be necessary to rethink the plans to make the garden a special place for the community — something the former committee found unacceptable.”

As reported in The Extra last month, ERC responded that electricity provision was particularly difficult because of the garden’s location.

This week, a spokesman said: “We are disappointed that Friends of Rouken Glen have taken this decision.

“Despite advice from the council from the outset that a power supply would absorb much of the budget, FoRG were keen to include this.

“With regards the community grants, there are conditions around these which are made clear to all groups who benefit from support.”

Mr Levin added that former FoRG members remain “concerned that the good of our lovely park should come first”.