Funds secured to restore Memorial Gardens

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21 April 2017 3:46PM

Cockermouth’s popular Memorial Gardens will finally be restored to their former glory after being devastated in the 2015 floods.

Funds have been secured to ensure work can go ahead on the riverside site where paths were ripped out, leaving them inaccessible.

The gardens, which used to be accessible for wheelchair users and are widely used, are owned by the town council but not insured.

Council clerk Sheila Brown said: “This area of Cockermouth was particularly affected by flooding and the current poor state of the gardens is a constant reminder.

“The restoration of the gardens would uplift the whole of this area. Locals have been incredibly patient about the completion of works but we are receiving a large number of complaints about the current condition of the gardens.”

Many of the paths along the River Derwent were washed away or left unusable in December 2015. The cost to repair the gardens came in at more than £23,000.

The council has raised £11,150 through increasing precepts.

It was delighted to hear this week that Cumbria Community Foundation Fund would give them a further £12,186.

Mrs Brown said: “The Memorial Gardens were a well-loved and well-used local asset.

“The gardens are used by locals for riverside walks, exercising dogs, picnics, the play area etc.

“The town council allows local organisations to hold events and the tourist information centre also directs tourists to the gardens to view the castle.

“Severe flooding resulted in significant bank erosion, particularly on land opposite the castle, and widespread damage to the gardens and footpaths.

“We no longer direct tourists or hold events in the gardens as the area is hazardous. Usage is also severely restricted as many pathways are now inaccessible to families with small children and those with disabilities.”

Work will be carried out to stabilise the river banks to reduce erosion, restore footpaths and minimise future flood damage.

It is hoped work can start in June.

The council engaged Ian Creighton, of West Cumbria Rivers Trust, to advise on the best way forward.

“The work will see Memorial Gardens fully reopened and accessible to the public. We will be able to hold events on the gardens and the whole surrounding area will be uplifted,” added Mrs Brown.

“Families and those with disabilities will be able to use the area once more.

“It’s a really important space for Cockermouth that’s at the heart of our community.”

Contractors will use some of the stones dredged from the river bed last year by the Environment Agency.

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