Last week in the Journal, Annie Riddle wrote a column about Queen Elizabeth Gardens. There was also a letter in the Postbag; both writers seem disappointed in the improvements that have been made to the gardens, especially with the new paths.

Personally, I quite like the improvements. I think the area at the end of Town Path looks clean and fresh, and the wider paths throughout the gardens are an improvement. The park always seems to be busy, filled with families playing games, dog walkers and people who just want to sit and relax. Although we all seem to be complaining about the building work, it doesn’t seem to have stopped us from using the park.

I asked people on Facebook what they thought of the improvements, and the main gripe seemed to be with the loose gravel on the paths. This is something that was also mentioned in the comments in the Journal. It had been stopping wheels on pushchairs and children’s scooters from working properly and getting into people’s shoes, as well as being kicked all over the grass.

Chris Stringer, the Parks Manager for Salisbury City Council, has stated that the gravel footpaths are still something of a work in progress. They are actually the same sort of thing as the footpaths around the Cathedral, so once the gravel settles we won’t have the problems people seem to be experiencing. I think the Council have been in and swept up some of the loose stone for now to avoid problems; when I walked through there today I didn’t get a single stone in my shoe. The end result will be heavy-duty paths that won’t crack in the frost and are hopefully non-slip come the wet and frosty Winter months. Additional footpaths have also been put in so that access from the car park is a lot easier and safer (remember that dark, muddy path between two hedges before?).

People are also unhappy about the empty flower beds. Chris assures me there are flowers planned for these; because of when the building work finished, it would have been too expensive to buy in plants to fill them, but towards Autumn/Winter we will see new plants going into the currently empty areas. It’s a shame skateboarders have already marked the walls of the new flower beds, but realistically, whatever you put there, you’re going to have people doing things like that; there’s no way around it.

Chris’s final comment on it: “It’ll take a few years for everything to properly establish and flourish, but the wait will definitely be worth it!”

One thing worth noting here is that this project has been going on since 2006. At the time, the Council placed posters in the park and ran ads on Spire FM inviting us to voice our opinions on the proposed changes to the park. Of the thousands of people living here and using the park, only 292 people contributed.

The Council’s Parks and Gardens department will be looking at Victoria Park next year, and Churchill Gardens in a few years. They will consult the public on these, so perhaps this time more of us should make our voices heard about what we do and don’t want to see in our parks.