Opinion: Has Eaton Park in Norwich become a victim of its own success?
PUBLISHED: 15:14 17 September 2019 | UPDATED: 21:10 17 September 2019
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Editor David Powles looks at what needs to be done to make his favourite park as accessible as possible.
I spent six hours in my favourite Norfolk park last Sunday.
Firstly playing football for my Sunday league team (a 2-1 win in the cup in which I scored the winner in case you we're wondering) and then returning later that afternoon with the two children.
If you were at Eaton Park in Norwich you may have spotted me. I was the one walking around like someone who has just raided a sports shop, carrying cricket gear in one arm, at various points bikes and bike helmets in the other and somehow managing to kick a ball along as well.
But it was brilliant. We played cricket (the six-year-old scoring an unbeaten 82, which says more about my bowling than his batting), they did laps on the cycle track, kicked balls in the goals and then finished it off with a trip to the playground.
We went home tired but happy, buoyed by the sheer joy of getting out in the fresh air and enjoying time together.
And we very much weren't alone, all over the park were people doing similar things and I'd estimate that during the course of that Sunday alone it must have been visited by at least 5,000 people.
Norwich loves Parklife as much as it does Farkelife, so it would seem.
But there was one downside to those two trips - the trouble it took getting in and out of the park.
Given its central location it's never been blessed with that many spaces, but in the last few months they have become even fewer as popular parts of the bottom car park, in between the trees, have been blocked off by logs.
This means the bottom car park has become even more pressurised and leaving on Sunday morning must have taken the best part of 10 to 15 minutes as the narrow lane became clogged up and at times impassable.
Later on finding a space took equally as long. And while I understand it wasn't the biggest of hardships to have waited in the car park to get the chance to enjoy free access to the park, if that's the scene played out every weekend there's undoubtedly a problem which needs to be tackled.
In many ways the park has become a victim of its own success and the sheer number of cars there suggests to me people are travelling to it from far and wide and certainly beyond the boundaries of Norwich City Council. Given I'm from South Norfolk, I've no problem with that.
So what to do?
Of course there's a delicate balance to be struck. We should all be encouraged to abandon the car as much as possible. Were park bosses to simply dig up parts of the facility and concrete it over for more spaces, it would in many ways feel like a bit of a failure on the part of Norfolk and its bid to be green.
That said parks like this should remain free for all so something may have to give. Could we spare a small bit of space where the golf course currently sits to open it up a bit?
Perhaps people like myself should share some of the responsibility? I live in Hethersett and could have just as easily headed to the park in the village or one of several up the road.
There's always the option of charging. If people were asked to pay a couple of quid a trip perhaps it would encourage us all to look at more sustainable ways of travelling there.
I am however loath to support something that may end up preventing people from enjoying access to the many facilities on offer, especially when seeing it so alive and buzzing was such a wonderful sight.
It's taken me 650 words to realise I don't have the answers to the question I've posed. Do you? I'd love to know your views at firstname.lastname@example.org.