I AM writing with regard to Worthington Park losing its full-time gardener.

As evidenced by the numbers who came out to support keeping the onsite gardener on Saturday April 1, and the signatures on the petition to the council, it is clear that there is strong feeling among the community that use Worthington Park.

A huge variety of people can be seen in the park on any one day, individuals, families and groups from schools, nurseries, health, and exercise groups.

The onsite gardener, as well as keeping the park in pristine condition (it has been awarded a green flag for several years now), is a friendly face to talk to - for some park goers he may be the only person they talk to that day.

In a recent meeting with Amey on April 4, which the Friends of Worthington Park thought was to discuss the possibility of losing the onsite gardener, it became clear that a plan was already in place to remove him - he was in fact redeployed on Monday April 10.

We were assured that this change was not about saving any money but rather to reduce the differences between parks and that this was to be done by using mobile teams.

The Friends group argued that other local parks had deteriorated rapidly when onsite gardeners had been removed and Amey agreed things had not been ideal but that measures were being taken to ensure last year's problems did not reoccur.

This prompted a suggestion that the status quo was maintained at Worthington Park for a further year while the new management system to address last year's problems in other parks was implemented and reviewed.

Sadly, this was dismissed without any real consideration and, after much discussion, the Friends eventually felt that to continue was, sadly, a waste of everyone's time.

Amey did not appear to be open to changing their minds; Amey clearly had a plan in already in place and that was what they were going to go with.

The new working schedule for parks came into place last Monday. It is hoped that our current onsite gardener will spend some time every day in the park first thing in the morning, opening toilets and emptying bins. He will then join a mobile team (three gardeners and an apprentice) travelling around other parks.

We will wait and see how the new system work but there are many people, some who come from as far away as Stockport and Bolton, who will miss the friendly interactions of the onsite gardener for whom nothing is too much trouble.

It is the view of our extensive park community, which includes families, schools, nurseries, social groups, dog walkers, joggers and health groups, that the importance of an onsite gardener who demonstrates pride and ownership not just in the physical aspects of the park but also its community is something that should be being spread out to other parks rather than being diluted.

I know I am not alone in saying that an onsite gardener will be sorely missed as are onsite gardeners in other parks on the borough.

I, and many others, some of whom have already signed a petition, would ask that for the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the large community using Worthington park that the decision to remove such an important role is reconsidered.

Trafford Council and Amey please think again; mental health is in the headlines at the moment.

Don't underestimate the importance of onsite gardeners.

Jacquie Wilson