Wythenshawe track and plans for the site developments.

A strategic 10 year plan for Wythenshawe Park that includes the track facilities is now formally accepted by Manchester City Council and has begun to be implemented. It has short, medium and long-term objectives.  The more ambitious plans for the track facilities are part of the longer strategy (i.e. must be completed within 10 years). Some smaller, shorter term objectives are already actioned e.g. cafe franchises reviewed, new notice boards put up etc. Work recently done on the track and lighting is not part of the strategic plan but urgent work that had to be done with the risk also of losing £150,000 in a long-standing ‘106 Community Fund” ring-fenced for Wythenshawe communities.  Apart from the smaller short term objectives delivered, two major ones also have......

1 Debbie Marsden has been appointed by Manchester Council as the Project Manager to deliver the park developments - the strategic plan.  She has a very credible background as the former Heritage Regeneration Project Officer for Alexandra Park. Her assistant Project Manager is Mike Wastell who was much involved in the development in Heaton Park.

2 The park management across the City has now also been extensively restructured into five areas. Wythenshawe Park is outside of these structures designated as an ’area’ in its own right. This is to facilitate future developments.

At the last Park Development meeting two weeks ago, Debbie Marsden’s set out as her immediate and first priority to oversee the formal handing over the completed Wythenshawe Hall to the Council. This will take several weeks because of H & S issues, snagging, on-going security etc. I emphasised that the track facilities must be among her next priorities.

Recently we had an initial meeting lasting over two hours with track user representatives, so that she could see for herself what the facilities were like.  Because the longer term objective for the facility is still several years away, a ‘quick-fix’ is what’s now being pursued to include the replacement of cabins for more toilets and changing facilities as the priority.

Manchester Council’s ‘top-man’ for Sport & Leisure is Neil Fairlamb, I remember first meeting him when he came to Manchester from Stoke, to ‘lead’ on delivering the 2002 Commonwealth Games!. His vision for the track facilities is a building similar to Trafford AC’s.  Funding for it will come from 3 sources - external bodies like Sport England, Users and Manchester City Council who will also match- fund external contributions.  A next step in the ‘short-term’ part of the strategy is to set up ‘Governance’. This will have user representatives who will manage on-going developments.  It’s time for Sale Harrier’s younger capable members to step up to the mark and contribute on this governance.

I have complete empathy with those completely disheartened, cynical and disillusioned from so many previous false dawns. However, I’ve more confidence this time for the following reasons

  1. There is a strategic plan in place to which Manchester Council are accountable for delivering, and there is a commitment and determination to deliver it
  2. They’ve already appointed (at great cost) the Project Manager who takes will forward the developments.
  3. They’ve set Wythenshawe Park apart from the other new Park areas to give it the priority it requires.

I hope this helps to clarify

Fechin Mc Cormick