A memorial honoring North Lanarkshire residents who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic is to be installed at Strathclyde Park.
Council officials say a year-long creative process involving community groups is now getting under way to help with the design of the memorial.
Meanwhile, the authority has also announced that the main spine road in the park will remain permanently closed to through traffic, following consultation and with police figures revealing crime in the area has more than halved and traffic incidents have reduced by a quarter.
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North Lanarkshire’s memorial to those lost to COVID-19 will be co-created alongside “groups in the community who have experienced a high impact on their activities due to the pandemic”.
It will form part of the national project Remembering Together, which is being co-ordinated by Greenspace Scotland and will see community memorials created in all 32 Scottish council areas.
The project website states that it will provide “a space where we can share what has happened, and is still happening, for those that need it”.
Environment conventioner Michael McPake said: “It’s appropriate that Strathclyde Park will be the home for North Lanarkshire’s COVID memorial, where we can remember those we have lost.
“Throughout the pandemic, parks have become increasingly important, offering us all space to take some exercise and fresh air when we were forced to stay at home so much.”
He added: “Our country parks offer wonderful opportunities for everyone to enjoy a range of outdoor activities, and our ambition is to expand the facilities and use of our parks for residents and visitors.”
Remembering Together’s co-creation process aims to explore “who, what and how we want to remember and honor all those affected by COVID.
“Offering a place to connect, to reflect and to create, [it] is about creating together, being part of a process to commemorate those who have lost their lives, those who have experienced loss and change as well as celebrating the ways in which Scottish communities continue to come together during the most difficult times.”
South Lanarkshire is creating a living memorial paying tribute to those who lost their lives, with 800 trees being planted at 13 locations across the council area to honor those who have died and to represent the community’s loss.
The same North Lanarkshire Council announcement also revealed that the Strathclyde Park through road, running from the Raith interchange at its Bellshill side through to Hamilton Road in Motherwell, will not reopen to traffic.
It has been closed to vehicles for two years since being shut at the start of the first lockdown to create additional walking and cycling space as people flocked to open spaces for the limited daily exercise and outdoor time allowed under the tightest coronavirus restrictions.
Now the road is to remain permanently closed between the roundabout accessing Bothwellhaugh cemetery to the junction leading to the watersports centre, meaning there will no longer be a through route straight through the length of the park and that drivers aiming to access particular areas or car parks will need to enter from the correct specific main-road entrance.
Conservative councillors Meghan Gallacher and Colin Cameron had called in September 2020 for the road to be reopened, saying its closure was “rushed and ill thought out”.
A North Lanarkshire statement issued today said: “Following consultation with park users, the council has decided to keep the road through the park from Bothwellhaugh cemetery to the junction for the watersports center closed to traffic.”
It follows a public consultation carried out last year, with council officials saying after the initial closure under the Spaces for People distancing program that they had “received considerable positive comments from walkers and cyclists about the traffic-free route”.
Council officials said today: “The closure was introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic to create more space for people to walk and cycle, and in response to a recent survey over 85 per cent of visitors felt that the park was safer without traffic.
“[A total of] 77 per cent said it was better for recreation and 79 per cent agreed they saw less anti-social behaviour.
“Police Scotland has recorded a 57.1 per cent reduction in crimes, a decrease of 32 per cent in incidents and [of] 25.4 per cent in road traffic incidents.”
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