GLASGOW Community leaders are calling for the City Council to take action following a series of violent incidents in Queens Park.
A petition urging for Glasgow Southside’s main park to be lit up at night has gathered over 5,000 signatures. Outrage swept through the community after another sexual assault took place in February of this year, prompting calls for the park to be made safer for residents in the area.
Liz Armour Crosbie, co-ordinator of the Govanhill Community Safety campaign, believes that despite the petition the Council won’t provide lighting in the park. She said:
“I don’t think it will happen. I signed the petition, but could never light the whole park up, it would be glowing! No-one who lives near it would be able to sleep with the amount of light it would take, and the council’s starting to dim the streetlights as a way to save money so they won’t do it.
“I don’t think it should be open at night, I think they should lock it up. I think the only way is closing the park at night so no one can go through. You could only light the walk ways up; there are all the other bushes that you could get dragged into, it’s such a complicated problem and lighting up the park isn’t the solution. The council needs to come up with a solution, people are terrified.”
Jamie Watt, 33, is General Manager of a restaurant which faces onto Queens Park and the business relies heavily on foot traffic from families enjoying a day out in the area. He fears that without intervention from the local authorities to make the park feel safe again for the community, his business, and others in the area, will suffer. He said:
“The park should be lit up without question. It’s a beautiful park during the day time. Unfortunately given recent events that started with Moira Jones, this brought a lot of bad attention to it, especially at night. If you have a hot spot, like Queen’s Park, that has had repeated incidents in a small period of time, then that needs to be looked at. You don’t shut it, instead you look at how can we control it better?
“Until people start doing that the situation isn’t going to change, all that’s going to happen is that people will stop going to the park. Given how beautiful and amazing it is, that’s a terrible thing to be happening. Queen’s park is a gift to the people; you need to feel protected so that you can enjoy it.”
Moira Jones, a 40 year old businesswoman, was found dead in Queens Park after being brutally raped and murdered in 2008. Since then there have been a spree of sexual assaults in the area. The latest incident on March 30th involved a serious sexual assault of a 37 year old woman just inside the park gates.
“I’ve had so many people tell me they won’t go anywhere near the park now. They’re wary of going in after dark, something needs to be done.” – Liz Armour Crosbie
Campaigner Ms Armour Crosbie established the Govanhill community group, which works toward cleaning up the streets in the area and providing better protection for its residents, just over a year ago. There has been an increase in muggings and attacks since the beginning of this year, and she believes the local police force are over stretched and not equipped to deal with the problem. She said:
“The Police are struggling to cope with all the problems, that’s why we have to keep marching to their office to tell them and sending them petitions to let them know what’s going on. That’s why they have to bring extra resources in, the police; the council and Nicola Sturgeon are all struggling to cope with it. Even we’re struggling to cope with it, but we still try.
“I’ve had so many people tell me they won’t go anywhere near the park now. They’re wary of going in after dark, something needs to be done.”
Mr Watt agrees that the council needs to take progressive steps to protect residents in the local community. After working and living in the Southside of Glasgow for over 10 years, he doesn’t believe that locking up the park is the answer to the problem and that the solution is in the way the council allocates its budget.
“Would it not be a wise decision to take some of the money in their budget and invest in the people of Glasgow? That’s what people pay council tax for, for the services they receive, and part of that are the local parks. People should be able to enjoy them and feel safe in them. Money needs to be invested to do that, if they can put money into a massive drainage and sewage pipe, then they should invest money to protect people who want to use the park.”