Could royal charter save Maryon Wilson animals?

Maryon Wilson Park, Charlton

A royal charter could prevent Greenwich Council from closing the animal centre at Maryon Wilson Park, according to the head of its users’ group.

Friends of Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks chairman Tim Anderson told local podcast In The Meantime the parks were given to the council’s predecessors under the condition that it kept the park’s deer in place.

Council officials have drawn up plans to withdraw £43,000 of funding from the centre, which risks closure if outside funding cannot be found. Cuts to government grants have left the council with a £62m hole in its budget.

Mr Anderson told ITM, which is presented by Charlton Champion contributor Matt Clinch, that the park was gifted by the Maryon Wilson family under a serious of “covenants and indentures”.

“It has to retain its rural nature, it has to have access to the public, it has to have toilets, and the Maryon Wilson family also gifted the deer,” he explained.

“We understand this was done under a royal charter. I’m not sure how aware the current councillors are of this, but [a council leaflet] states a royal charter exists, signed by Henry VIII, stating the deer must remain. It could well be the deer are protected along with the rurual nature of the park.

“It’s a special place, and it was gifted for a special purpose. As the friends of the park, we’ll work with the council on whatever they come up with, but we’re saying to the council – don’t give a closure date, we can work and solve the problem. We want the council to take the initiative – and they may have a legal imperative to do that – and listen to what people are saying.”

Mr Anderson said he was not consulted about the plans, and had first read about them on The Charlton Champion – even though a member of the council’s cabinet, Woolwich Riverside councillor and culture spokesman John Fahy – is a member of the group.

He said he feared the park could become a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour without the animal centre, which he said was “unique in London”.

Greenwich councillors are due to formally vote on next year’s budget at a meeting on 2 March. Charlton councillor Allan MacCarthy, who sits on the council’s scrutiny committee which is dealing with the cutbacks, told a Charlton Central Residents Association meeting on Monday it was difficult to persuade those unfamiliar with the animal centre of its worth when there were competing demands on the council’s agenda.

“It’s very hard when you’re talking about people’s jobs,” he said. “Especially when they don’t know the facility and what it does for the neighbouring schools, and even people who are just walking past.”

At that same meeting, fellow Charlton councillor Janet Gillman said her husband – Kidbrooke with Hornfair representative and mayor-to-be Jim Gillman – had asked officials to drop a £30,000 “mayor making” ceremony in his honour because of the financial situation.

The full interview with Tim Anderson can be downloaded from the In The Meantime website or via iTunes. Photo above courtesy of Flickr user Pisci.

This entry was posted in Charlton, Charlton news, Maryon Wilson Park campaign. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Could royal charter save Maryon Wilson animals?

  1. John Fahy says:

    I was delighted to read all the comments in support of Waryon Wilson Park,a gem in the heart of SE7. Government cuts to local government requires Greenwich to cut £63m from its budgets. This is the worst range of cuts imposed by Government in living memory. I am working with Friends of the Park and Councillor colleagues to secure a lasting legacy which will serve future generations of residents.

    John Fahy

  2. BoneyBoy says:

    I have no strong feelings for or against the animal center in the park, but I think that deploying historic covenants or deeds to fight the closure of a specific facility could obsure a wider public debate about the choices that the council faces. If there is specific legal protection for spending on animals in the park, then the consequences are that savings will have to be made in service. That may mean cuts to services that are even less accaptable to residents …think school crossing wardens or the proposals close libraries in some boroughs.
    Personally I would rather the Council engaged in a meaningful debate with residents about what we are prepared to pay and choices between services. My interpretation of the savings proposals that Greenwich’s Scrunity committee looked at in december ( SAnd on that note I’m happy to support the proposed saving on the Mayor making ceremony.

  3. BoneyBoy says:

    I have no strong feelings for or against the animal center in the park, but I think that deploying historic covenants or deeds to fight the closure of a specific facility could obsure a wider public debate about the choices that the council faces. If there is specific legal protection for spending on animals in the park, then the consequences are that savings will have to be made in service. That may mean cuts to services that are even less accaptable to residents …think school crossing wardens or the proposals close libraries in some boroughs.
    Personally I would rather engage in a meaningful debate with residents about what we are prepared to pay and choices between services. My understanding of the savings package that Greenwich’s Scrunity Committee looked at in December is that its only a small percentage of the total savings that need to be found over the next 3 years. And on that note I welcome the proposal to save £30k on the annual Mayor making cremony.. but its a drop in the ocean of the savings that will ahve to be made.

  4. Pingback: Greenwich cuts tonight: It’s all about the priorities « 853

  5. Pingback: Could Maryon Wilson animal park move to Thamesmead? | The Charlton Champion

  6. darren rutherford says:

    my name is darrren and i am 8 years old, i’m going to ask my school if they can help save this park. i can go to this park any time of the year, see the animal, learn about them, see for myself what the animals are about not read it just in booking. we don’t live in the country side so we don’t get to see and learn but the animal park show us what we miss out on. please don’t close this park down i have my money box when i open you can have the money in it, this is all my christmas and birthday and i do jobs for my mum and i put the money in my money box and you can have it to feed the animals
    from darren

  7. Indigo says:

    Cllr John Fahy (above) :

    Maryon Wilson Park,a gem in the heart of SE7. Government cuts to local government requires Greenwich to cut £63m from its budgets. This is the worst range of cuts imposed by Government in living memory

    But, he seems to have forgotten to add: if you think that Labour councillors are not going to go ahead and spend £30,000 anyway on stuffing our already fat faces and listening to political speeches at the Painted Hall instead of giving Maryon Wilson Park the money, you have another think coming. Get out of our way, proles. Economic crisis, what economic crisis? No cuts for us. Doubles all round.

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