Cuts U-turn: Maryon Wilson Animal Park finally set to stay in council hands

Maryon Wilson Park

Greenwich Council is set to keep control of Maryon Wilson Animal Park, finally abandoning plans to spin the centre off into a charitable trust and ending five years of uncertainty about its future.

The council first announced plans to scrap the park’s budget in December 2010, with a view to looking for sponsorship.

After widespread protests, the council agreed to hand over management to a trust, Maryon Wilson Animal Park Ltd (MWAP) which would raise funds and operate the park.

But the trust has struggled to raise the funds needed to take on the park – believed to be about £100,000 per year. Last year, the Friends of Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks published published an open letter to council leader Denise Hyland asking for her to reconsider the decision to spin the centre off, made by her predecessor Chris Roberts.

While the council has deleted £42,350 – the cost of a stockman, vet fees and animal feed – from its parks budget, it has continued to run the park in the meantime, with last year’s running costs put at £70,000.

Now, if the council’s cabinet agrees on Wednesday, it will keep control of the park, and MWAP will become a Friends group, raising money and supplying volunteers – just as it proposed in last year’s open letter.

The council says it will hold a “complete review of revenue and capital expenditure” on the site and look to “reduce costs incrementally”.

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16 thoughts on “Cuts U-turn: Maryon Wilson Animal Park finally set to stay in council hands

  1. Larry Poulton June 16, 2016 / 09:08

    It is a beautiful oasis. I am biased as my home backs on to it and the view is serene. I can understand the councils need to make savings but fail to see how anyone could hope to make the sort of money needed for its upkeep privately without some commercialisation. I can’t help but feel that revenue generating opportunities are being missed. If done sensitively, perhaps a playground and cafe. There are after all, 2 schools nearby, so a ‘captive” clientele is available. I wouldn’t want to see the park spoilt but also wouldn’t want to see it run down and neglected.

  2. lynne barry June 16, 2016 / 13:29

    fantastic news and a victory for common sense

  3. mr_chas June 16, 2016 / 17:24

    I agree with Larry, but I would go further. I think a big opportunity to bring ‘sponsorship / outside funding’ to the Animal Park has been lost. Canary Wharf is directly visible across the water. Other projects in SE7, not run by RBG, are bringing shedloads of money/people’s time into our postcode.

    • Larry Poulton June 16, 2016 / 17:27

      I further agree with Mr Chas. An Inner City farm could be a big draw as it is in other parts of London.

    • Neil C June 17, 2016 / 19:51

      Which SE7 projects are bringing in ‘shedloads’ of money? I’m struggling to think of any. Selling sponsorship is a tough gig.

      • mr_chas June 21, 2016 / 18:23

        I must apologise Neil. I was just trying to make my prose more interesting. What I was attempting to say is that one or two small projects in SE7 are doing a damn good job at bringing in external funding. Even in the darkest times there is always money out there ( especially in the Corporates in Canary Wharf / the City ) if you know how to get out there and chase it. I hope this clarifies my over exuberance.

        • Darryl June 21, 2016 / 18:46

          Who are these small projects that are doing a damn good job at bringing in external funding?

  4. steve farris June 19, 2016 / 17:31

    why don’t RBG make a small charge on the ferry and some of the council tax spent on the ferry could be re-directed to look after both maryon and maryon Wilson parks both these parks were pristine in the seventys

    • Larry June 21, 2016 / 12:31

      Why don’t they use the ferry to raise running cost for the Parks? Even tho “Tolls cannot be levied on the ferry without changing the 1885 Act of Parliament”, “it is possible that the service may eventually be tolled in conjunction with other projects such as the Gallions Reach Crossing, which is likely to be tolled itself.”

      Over 2 million people cross the Thames by ferry each year. It would only need a toll of 5p per person to raise the £100k needed for park upkeep. They could even take voluntary contributions and probably raise the money!

      • Darryl June 21, 2016 / 12:39

        Transport for London runs the Woolwich Ferry, not Greenwich Council, which could always – dramatic suggestion here – levy 50p more per year in council tax…

        • Larry June 21, 2016 / 13:12

          Briggs Marine run it on a contract awarded by TFL. It was renewed in 2013 for £50M to cover the next 7 years of operation. I like the idea of a tax hike to cover it.

  5. fahy June 20, 2016 / 11:19

    I have written to the Leader of the Council today asking for the report on Maryon Wilson Park be deferred pending further discussion on the future of the Park. I am concerned that the report talks about incremental reductions in funding where the case for additional capital funding is self evident. I have long supported the vision of improving the quality of the Park . The original decision which I supported then and as I do now was for the right reasons.The Park needs to prosper and desperately needs adequate toilet provision,cafe and education centre. It needs to raise funds through these sources to create a better offer for young and old. The decision to create the Heritage Trust at Charlton House was for exactly the same reasons. I worry that this valued facility will continue to decline .

    • Darryl June 21, 2016 / 12:47

      The Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust’s hardly a brilliant example, is it? Weighed down by having to deal with the heritage centre at Woolwich (and the fallout from the Firepower closure), given a hospital pass in the form of long-neglected Charlton House and a cafe that doesn’t even open at weekends – any organisation that took on MWAP would need better financing and to be a lot more nimble.

      A cafe would transform the park – just as East Greenwich Pleasaunce has been transformed by Pistachio’s (after it did the same at Manor House Gardens over the border in Lewisham). Nothing’s stopping Greenwich Council from doing that other than Greenwich Council.

  6. fahy June 21, 2016 / 13:19

    There is enormous support for the Park. No one wants it to continue to be run down. The potential for grant aid is limited if managed by the local authority

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