Shroggs Blog (that’s got a nice ring to it!)
I really like this part of the job – an access audit, auditing somewhere outdoors. Fresh air, sunshine and nothing else to do but explore every path, check every bench, observe every pond – and possibly enjoy a cup of coffee at the end.
There’s a limit to how many accessible toilets you can investigate, how many access ramps you can measure, how many parking spaces you can count – let’s get outside!
Well, we couldn’t quite tick every box today, there’s – no coffee shop in Shroggs Park – but it’s still a beautiful day out.
What a team
What Shroggs Park has in abundance though is lovely people. I was accompanied on this outing by locally famous urban warrior/activist Joan (complete with dog), and what she didn’t know about the park is not worth knowing.
What a team! I know what I’m looking for, Joan knows what’s where and who everyone is, and the dog attracts other dog walkers as well.
We spent a fruitful couple of hours covering every path, climbing every gradient (and this park has its fair share of gradients!), checking every bench, and reading every sign.
What you don’t notice – taking notes and photos, chatting to everyone you meet, asking questions – is that you quickly cover a considerable distance. All this exercise for free! Love it!
So, we circulated slowly and chatted to everyone, learning about the history of the place – there used to be a pond there, the children used to tend a garden over there, I think there used to be some toilets and a café in that building over there, no they’re going to knock that down, the bus used to come up ……and so on. We also collected a lot of dog walkers en route – we should have a field over there to let the dogs off the lead, why don’t they do that?
A particular destination was the children’s play area. Some money has come into this sort of provision, so watch out for upgrades in your local park – you might be lucky. If nothing seems to be happening, ring up and ask why.
Conclusions from our Access Audit
Having walked every path, overcome every gradient (there are some challenging gradients here), checked every worn surface and reached every bench I remembered I had to take pictures for my report. So, a quick recap and images of gates, potholes, worn paths and wonky benches. Unfortunately (or not, depending on your point of view) most of my pictures featured part or all of a dog as we had attracted a fair number by now! The combination of taking our own dog and having a wheelchair is irresistible to all dogs!
But lots of potential here. I like old municipal parks – space, tranquillity and good access. They were built for the right reasons, and we should treasure them. Something for everyone, whatever your age or status or interest.
What we need here is some care, improving surfaces, upgrading the play area, repurposing of some areas – but a lick of paint, some serious gardening and a bit of imagination will do wonders.
See you next time, Chris