RESIDENTS in Poole have claimed that no maintenance work has been done to their local park, despite the council beginning improvements more than two years ago.

The £150,000 project to revamp Branksome Recreation Park, which started back in September 2018, included the expansion of the park and the installation of new equipment, as well as extra benches and wider paths to prevent flooding.

The works to improve and expand the play area at Branksome Recreation Ground completed in January 2019.

However, although fencing and benches have been installed since then, work on the paths has yet to take place.

The council say this is due to “the impact of Covid-19”, the subsequent impact on council staff isolating or shielding and the prolonged period of wet weather.

A spokesperson for the residents of Branksome ward said: “As per the notice, works were started in Autumn 2018. We are now in 2021 and only a small amount of the work has been undertaken.

"The most important part of the improvement work needed to be the paths.

"They must have been poorly laid at the outset as ever since they have been installed, we have had flooding in certain places. Now the paths are flooded in two to three inches of smelly water."

The project was initially proposed by now defunct Poole Council, in collaboration with Poole Communities Trust at the Branksome Centre, The Friends of Branksome Rec and Branksome West Residents Association.

Residents have argued that the public amenity is being used more than ever due to people going for walks and exercising during the lockdown period.

The residents of Branksome ward spokesperson added: “Our question is, why wasn’t any work done on this during 2019?

“I know we had lockdown on and off in 2020, however we had a long duration of very good weather when this could have been actioned.

“Due to this latest lockdown, the whole surrounding residents’ area are looking to walk here due to not being able to go to work, children riding bikes safely away from the road and people just wanting to leave their homes to have some fresh air and a good safe walk.”

The council have said they are to prioritise work on the paths “as soon as drier conditions” which they expect will take place by “mid spring”.

A BCP Council spokesperson said: “The raising and widening of the path parallel to Playfields Drive will address access issues and ensure the path is fit for purpose for all users throughout the year.

“Work on the path was delayed by the impact of Covid-19, with the need to comply with social distancing and lockdowns. There was also an impact on staff numbers due to those unwell, shielding or in isolation.

“Commencing works or attempting any temporary measures during current wet conditions, would seriously damage the surface and surrounding grass as we need to bring in machinery and vehicles.

“The priority is to commence work on the permanent solution as soon as drier conditions allow and anticipate being underway by mid spring.”