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Save the Venny: Newtown's Last Green Space

The community of Newtown are pushing efforts to fight a public order proposed by the council for the closure of the ‘Venny’: the last remaining public green space in the area. Together, we can support them to keep this space open.

The Venny

Newtown’s Venny takes its name from its days as Newtown Adventure Playground. It spent decades playing a crucial role in the health, wellbeing and cohesion of the community, giving children a healthy and happy start in life as well as being an invaluable hub to bring the community together.  It served as more than just a playground; it was a community hub, a space for exploration, play, learning, connection and support.

“The Venny has been the centre of our community for decades. This used to be my safe place as a child. We were able to explore, play, and learn a lot of life skills. It was like my second home.” – Sarah Imran, Newtown resident and campaigner

Thank you to Coreen Broomes (who previously worked as manager for Newtown Adventure Playground) for the photos.

The Situation Today

However due to a succession of funding cuts it has been subject to neglect, and subsequently higher incidents of antisocial behaviours have been reported, which have prompted Southampton City Council to propose Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) – enforcing its closure. As the last remaining public green space in the local area, it is vital that we use our collective voice to save it for the sake of the community and for future generations.

We appreciate the concerns regarding the antisocial behaviour in the area, and the Council’s incentive to take action. We recognise that solutions need to be found, and are urging them to reconsider, and work with community members towards alternative, community-focused solutions that work with the assets and needs of the community rather than further depriving them of basic public amenities readily afforded to others across our city.

“Taking away this park will leave children with nowhere to go. There is nothing left here now for our children! Hence why anti social behaviour is on the rise.  If this is taken away, where do they go? This park It’s on our door step we can come home from work, school and we can take the children to the park allow them to play & release their energy. Isn’t this what children are supposed to do?”  –Sarah Imran, Newtown resident and campaigner

Local residents of Newtown gathered last week, and will meet again tomorrow (Weds 17th) in a public protest to demonstrate their opposition to the proposed closure and campaign for the following:

  1. Preservation of the Venny

  2. Investment in the continued maintenance and enhancement of the play area.

  3. Consultation with the community regarding reinstatement of play provisions and youth services in the area.

Notes on Mount Pleasant Footpath

Also under consultation nearby is a footpath on the perimeter of Mount Pleasant school. This is adjacent to a disused, smaller, green space, which is already closed and fenced off. This space could be put to good use by the school to enable pupils to have a forest school experience, however it is currently not possible due to the antisocial behaviour taking place on the adjacent alleyway. We want to encourage people to support the closure of this alleyway, which will enable the green space to be used safely by the school.

Take Action for Newtown Venny:

  1. Take 5 minutes to share your voice via the consultation before the deadline of Sunday 21 January: Southampton City Council Consultation (N.B. that the Venny is referred to as Maytree footpath and park on this consultation. )

  1. Share this information and call to action with your networks.

  2. Join Newtown campaigners in their fight to save the Venny, tomorrow (Weds 17th Jan) at 6pm, at YMCA Newtown Youth Centre on Graham Road

  3. Remember and/or reimagine the Venny. Share your stories and hopes for the Venny. How it has been used in the past, how it can be rejuvenated for the future. Use the hashtag #SavetheVenny

The proposed closure of the Venny is an example of how inextricably interconnected issues of social and environmental justice are. All of us deserve equitable access to green open spaces, as an essential component not just for health and wellbeing, to support our connection with nature, but as an amenity to foster a sense of community. The closure of this space would send a disheartening message, implying that those in certain areas are undeserving of the same chances readily afforded to others in our city.

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