A peaceful protest will take place at Palacerigg Country Park on Sunday, March 24, following North Lanarkshire Council’s decision to rehome the animal collection.
The decision was taken at the recent council budget meeting in order to save £69,000 over the next two years, with the land to be used for new outdoor play area.
The protest, which will take place from noon-2pm has been organised by the Facebook page ‘Save The Animal Park at Palacerigg Country Park’ which believes savings could be made elsewhere.
Margaret Moiyes, who set up the page, said: “The council wants to remove the animals from Palacerigg, concrete it over and turn into into a ‘major play development’.
“This is not what our country park was intended for when it was gifted to the people of this town.
“Children more than ever with the mental health problems we read about need a connection to nature more than ever.
“Many towns are reclaiming their green spaces and promoting getting back to nature.
“This town was ahead of its time creating what we have in Palacerigg. You remove the animals and you rip the heart out of it. It cannot be allowed to happen.”
In previous years the council held a public consultation about it’s planned savings, but this year it wasn’t the case.
Margaret believes the future of the animals should have been put to the community.
She said: “I’m frustrated and angry at the way people of the town are being treated by this total lack of consultation, it’s been done under the radar, done underhand and is a shameful act!
“Cumbernauld had been stripped of more assets than I can count whilst others, such as Drumpellier Country Park, prosper to our detriment.
“Young and old appreciate the animals. It would be a travesty to build a play park here as once if goes ahead that’s it we’ve lost an amazing green space.”
The council says it is committed to the future of the park, but it is a future that won’t include the animals.
It is understood around £300,000 has been earmarked for the new outdoor play area, with further lottery/heritage funding being looked at for further improvements at the park.
A council spokesperson said: “As part of the budget setting for the year ahead, the council decided to rehome the animal collection at Palacerigg Country Park.
“This will generate a saving of £69,000 over two years from the costs of staffing, animal feed, vet services and maintenance of enclosures.
“While we appreciate the animals are popular with visitors, the council has to make significant savings to continue to deliver essential local services.
“Over the coming months, we will be working with operators of similar facilities to identify rehoming opportunities where the animals’ future welfare can be assured.
“The park remains open for business, and the council is committed to the future of the park. A new play area will be created at Palacerigg, with work expected to start on site in May.
“A consultation will begin in April to develop a master plan for the long-term future of the park, and we will be asking the public for their ideas.”