Plans for a permanent memorial to Nelson Mandela in a Liverpool park are to be boosted by work to improve the lake around its proposed location.
The Nelson Mandela Memorial Campaign (Mandela8) wants to create a tribute on the lake island at Princes Park to tie in with what would have been his 100th birthday in 2018, and reinstate a bridge link.
A report to the Cabinet on Friday 17 March approved spending £312,500 restoring the surrounding lake including reinstating the water channel, fixing edging stones, putting in fishing platforms and ecological improvements.
Councillor Steve Munby, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “The Nelson Mandela Memorial would be an exciting addition to Princes Park and help attract more people to spend time there.
“He was made a Freeman of the City in 1994 and it is very fitting that Liverpool should be aiming to honour him, but it is equally vital that the area surrounding the memorial is improved.”
The scheme is supported by Liverpool City Council, the North West TUC and National Museums Liverpool.
Campaign Chair, Lynn Collins, said: “We very much welcome this proposal which will help our aim of creating a unique artwork which will celebrate and commemorate Nelson Mandela’s outstanding achievement for humanity, and will bring visitors and tourists to the park.
“We are currently in the process of appointing an artist who we will work with to create something special that fits the park and its environment and captures the ideals which Mandela stood for – of Freedom, Justice, Education and Equality.
“This city has a long affiliation to Nelson Mandela and the chosen space of the island in Princes Park creates an opportunity to break down barriers, build bridges and create links on many levels connected to humanity and diversity. It is particularly fitting as Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on an island for 18 years of his imprisonment.”
The proposal is part of a package of measures proposed by the council costing more than £1 million, which would also see improvements at Calderstones Park and Sefton Park.
At Calderstones Park, it is proposed that £140,000 is used to remove silt in the lake which has blocked watercourses and led to the closure of access for fishing. The lake bank would be reinstated and fishing platforms repaired and replaced.
And plans are also in place for a new ‘vitality trail’ at Sefton Park which will see a wide path with fitness equipment at regular intervals sited on the former 1.5km pony track. The Fairy Glen water feature will also be refurbished and there will be repairs to the watercourse and drainage improvements. The scheme will complement the already completed upgrade of Livingstone Drive car park, footpath repairs, tennis court refurbishment and improvements to the Oasis café and lakeside kiosk. The total cost of the work is £677,500.
Mayoral lead for parks, Councillor Peter Mitchell, said: “We have some of the finest parks in the country in Liverpool and we are committed to doing all we can to encouraging more people into them.
“The lakes at these parks are important focal points which attract many people to see the wildlife. Their condition has been a concern for some time and we need to act now to improve them.”
An earlier plan for a sports and play area at Sefton Park has been placed on hold due to concerns over affordability and its proximity to the recently constructed Otterspool Skate Park. Instead, the funding earmarked for the scheme will be used to pay for the work at Princes Park and Calderstones Park.
The Friends groups at both Princes Park and Calderstones Park have been consulted with about the proposals.
The schemes will be paid for using capital receipts from the sale of assets on an ‘invest to save’ basis as they will lower the ongoing cost of maintaining the facilities.
Pictured above are members of the Mandela8 group who are working towards creating a memorial to Nelson Mandela at Princes Park.