Thousands of campaigners take stand against bid to axe Portsmouth Victoria Park aviary

The aviary in Victoria Park
The aviary in Victoria Park

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SEVERAL thousand outraged campaigners have signed a petition against plans to axe a much-loved wildlife spot in Portsmouth’s Victoria Park.

The council has come up with an action plan to improve the whole park and make it a more desirable place to visit.

It’s outrageous, especially in a city that is depleted of green space and wildlife.

Caroline Harris

But one of the proposals is to scrap the park’s popular aviary – containing peacocks, parrots and other exotic birds – and replace it with a ‘multi-functional bandstand’.

Supporters who love the space cannot believe the idea – to be considered by Tory council leader Donna Jones tomorrow – has come forward.

A petition by the Liberal Democrats has attracted more than 2,100 signatures.

Portsmouth’s Lib Dem leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘The petition has just gone wild.

‘In a matter of 30 hours we had about 2,000 signatures.

‘We’ve had people from São Paulo, Brazil, signing it. There is another person from America who has signed it.

‘This is an incredibly important issue for the city.’

He added: ‘Victoria Park used to be called the People’s Park. It’s really important we remember this. This is a park for the people of the city. What the vision is about is making it a place for bigger performances.

‘That’s great but that’s only three or four times a year. The park should be available for city families for 365 days a year.’

Caroline Harris, of Fratton, is furious.

She said: ‘It’s outrageous, especially in a city that is depleted of green space and wildlife.

‘I know why the council hasn’t consulted, because it knows people would pulsate with rage.’

But Cllr Jones insists there is ‘zero chance’ of the aviary going – and it’s just one of a number of ideas council officers have brought forward.

Cllr Jones said: ‘Victoria Park is a key, strategic site in the middle of Portsmouth. More than 2,800 students have been allocated bedrooms nearby in the city centre, in the form of the Zurich building and opposite the civic offices.

‘Victoria Park should have been used far better over the last 10 years.

‘Sadly there was no Victoria Park masterplan in place. So we have asked council officers to come up with ideas of better utilising this lovely, public space to get more people to use it.’

Cllr Jones added that the ‘city’s reputation is being damaged’ by the Lib Dems’ tactics.

Giving reasons for potentially moving the aviary, the action plan says: ‘The existing aviary is in a poor state of repair and has extensive and increasing operational costs.’