Wearsiders and students at nearby Bede College have said they are worried about an increase in anti-social behaviour and vandalism as Barnes Park will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from 1st June.
Michael Dono, who lives in High Barnes, said: “Back when it [Barnes Park] was refurbished it was a great park, but I feel since then it’s had a lack of attention despite so much being put into the refurbishment in the first place.
“I can understand the budget is under strain.
“When I first heard about the gates being left open 24 hours a day, I liked the idea, but if the park is not being policed then it’s potentially not safe to go in there in the later hours.”
A statement from Councillor Michael Mordey, Portfolio Holder for City Services, Sunderland City Council said: “On Wednesday, June 1, the City Council begins having 15 parks, gardens and cemeteries open for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“These are: Hetton Mini and Lyons parks, Herrington Country Park, Silksworth Park, Barnes Park, Barley Mow Park, Thompson Park, Roker Park, Mere Knowles, Southwick and Sunderland cemeteries, Hetton Lyons and Hylton Road playing fields, King George Park and Washington’s Usworth Park.
“Mowbray Park in the city centre continues with its traditional opening and closing hours and there also continues to be CCTV coverage in Barnes Park.
“The 24-hour openings are expected to generate savings of nearly £80,000 per year.
“There are no council job losses.
“The council is having to make decisions like this because the Government has cut more than £200m from our budgets since 2010.
“The council is cutting its budget by £46m this year, and expects to cut more than £100m in the next four years.
“Every day thousands of people enjoy and respect our city’s parks, anyone with concerns about anti-social behaviour or crime can contact Northumbria Police on 101 or the City Council on 0191 520 5550.”
Sunderland’s Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) councillor Niall Hodson added: “People travel from all over Sunderland come to enjoy Barnes Park, and many are concerned about what could happen when it is left open all night.
“I will be raising this issue at the civic centre to see what can be done to review this decision.”
Lib Dem campaigner for Barnes Bailey Baker (pictured above) added: “Many residents living near the park are worried about an increase in anti-social behaviour when gates are left open all night, and students at Bede College tell me this move will make them feel less safe in the park.
“That’s why I’m urging ruling councillors to think again. This change will save the Council a small amount of money, but could have a huge impact on the community in Barnes.”