Thursday, 28 August 2014

Rowntree Park, York

This is a lovely park near the river close to the centre of York. Set on land donated to the city by the chocolate company, it has plenty of space for bikes and scooters and playground equipment for a range of ages. There are several climbing frames, swings, slides and a long balance course.

Elsewhere in the park there is a mini golf course, skate park and there was a bouncy castle when we were there (extra charge). There are flocks of ducks and geese on a small lake and a more formal garden.

So far, so good. But the real point of difference in this park is the lovely community cafe, which hosts a small public library. It's an arts and crafts inspired building and has a balcony which overlooks the park. As a cafe it is cosy and welcoming, with magazines alongside the library books. The selection of books has been chosen by the Friends of Rowntree Park, a group which seems to be very active in support of the park and should be commended. When we were there the cafe was busy, and plenty of people were reading, to themselves and to their children. I suspect it had more visitors than many libraries on a Saturday afternoon.

At a time when local authority budgets are being squeezed, I think public services need to be innovative. This partnership of local authority, community group and cafe is working well and delivering a really attractive offering.

Round up
CafĂ© latte price: £2.50 for a large one
Favourite cake: £2.50 for a huge piece of Victoria sponge
Child friendly highlights: Great playground, babyccino for £1
Buggy friendly: yes
Parking: £2.40 for up to 2 hours

A public library in a (lovely) cafe, in a (pretty good) public park. What's not to like? A lesson to local authorities everywhere.


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