Bedhampton gateway is now a more welcoming entrance to park

SMILES The Mayoress of Havant Hazel Smith and The Mayor of Havant Ken Smith officially opening Bidbury Mead.  Picture: Sarah Standing (113927-7699)
SMILES The Mayoress of Havant Hazel Smith and The Mayor of Havant Ken Smith officially opening Bidbury Mead. Picture: Sarah Standing (113927-7699)
Black Star Riders: from left, Scott Gorham, Chad Szeliga, Ricky Warwick,  Robbie Crane and Damon Johnson.  Picture by Richard Stow

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THE overwhelming efforts of a community have transformed the dark and dismal gateway to an historic park.

Dozens of residents turned up for the grand unveiling of the improvements to Bidbury Mead, in Bedhampton, on Saturday.

The park is surrounded by beautiful listed buildings but for many years the long, dark pathway from Bedhampton Road was a foreboding place, plagued by anti-social behaviour.

Thanks to Havant councillor Jenny Wride and local volunteers, almost £50,000 worth of funding was secured and the area has been transformed.

The fencing has been replaced, new lighting has been installed, the pathway has been dug up and a carved wooden entrance sign has been created giving the entrance a welcoming feel.

Two interpretation boards mapping the area and giving detailed historical information have been installed.

And major roadworks at the junction of Bedhampton Road and Hulbert Road, outside the entrance, have been completed, making it safer to cross.

Cllr Wride said: ‘Nine years ago when I was a county councillor, mums said to me the crossing wasn’t safe. It’s taken a long time but the wonderful thing is that the work by Hampshire County Council to create an island refuge to cross and make the lights sympathetic to pedestrians has dove-tailed with work at Bidbury Mead.

‘It’s amazing what can be done when the community pulls together and with what started with a little bit of seed corn money.’

Cllr Wride added: ’Ron Tate stepped forward to say we ought to be a bit more adventurous and very generously offered to take on the role of project manager.

‘Ron has worked tirelessly and without his experience and commitment we would not be here today.’

The project began in 2007 with a £4,600 grant from Havant Borough Council to enhance Bidbury Mead and install a youth shelter in Scratchface Lane Park.

Further money was given from county councillor budgets including that of the late Cllr Anne Edwards and from Cllr Ann Buckley and around £40,000 came from a Big Lottery grant.

Volunteers did the groundwork and planting.