Enhancing Sports Provision in Leith: Montgomery Street Park

(adapted from a press release from the Friends of Montgomery Street Park dated 5th March 2015)

The Friends of Montgomery Street Park are celebrating a £40,000 grant from Biffa Award, a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK.
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Montgomery Street Park is set for a major upgrade after a group of local residents were successful in their funding bid. The grant from Biffa Award means that the hard-surface sports area, which is currently cracked, uneven and pot-holed, will be completely refurbished. The area will be levelled and resurfaced with rubber, then painted with lines for both football and basketball. New goal posts and basketball hoops will be installed and new seating added, in the form of long-lasting and low-maintenance recycled plastic benches. The work will start in mid-March and should be finished by the end of April.

The application was the result of a public consultation exercise, and several local groups, including schools, churches and youth organisations, wrote letters of support.

Jackie Reid, Head Teacher at Leith Walk Primary School, said ‘Many of our pupils make excellent use of the park, which has become a hub of our community. As a school, we use the park extensively to ensure our pupils are active and healthy. We also hold our Nursery Sports Day there each year in June. Improving the facility in this way will undoubtedly enhance our school, and wider community.’

Reverend Gordy Mackay, Minister of Abbeyhill Baptist Church and local resident, said, ‘Montgomery Street Park is a vital and very valued space within our community. Over many years Abbeyhill Baptist Church has benefitted from our close proximity to the park. We have used the park for picnics, participated in fun days and enjoy taking groups of children and teenagers there to play games. These improvements to the park and the facilities within it will bring significant benefit to the park’s many users and will be greatly welcomed.’

Gillian French, Programme Manager at Biffa Award, said ‘Biffa Award is delighted to support this project, which has been led by local residents and involved local children. Outdoor spaces are incredibly important; the improved area will be a fun, stimulating and engaging place where children and their parents can meet and socialise.’

The funding from Biffa Award will go directly towards creating a safer and more usable space for park users, in what is the most densely populated area of not just Edinburgh, but Scotland (Census 2011). The upgraded sports facilities will be free to use. The improvements will promote active living and sports engagement, directly benefiting the health and wellbeing of local residents, who – having small or no private gardens – make good use of the park.

For more information about the Friends of Montgomery Street Park or to get involved in the group, visit their website or Facebook page.