DARLINGTON will be left unkempt if residents don’t step into the shoes of its cash-strapped council, a councillor warned today (Monday, June 9).

Councillor Paul Harman is supporting a bid by local residents to create Britain’s smallest park on a small patch of land under a billboard in the town.

Councillor Gerald Lee Park – measuring around 25 square metres – is being created by members of the South Terrace Residents Association in conjunction with Guerilla Gardeners Darlington Division, who held a group dig at the weekend.

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Coun Harman joined the group for the dig and said such projects would become invaluable throughout the community when council funding for maintenance is cut.

He said: “It’s very nice from the point of view of bringing the community together with a sense of purpose and that people enjoy making a difference to somewhere that was just a scruffy patch of land.

“But the serious thing that nobody has really woken up to yet is that the budget cuts coming into play in 2016 will mean the loss of all kinds of services.

“There are going to be severe cutbacks and people should be encouraged and empowered to take control of where they live.

“There are many areas where services will deteriorate including street cleaning and looking after green spaces.

“Where people are not prepared to step up and help, the standards will deteriorate quite considerably.”

He added: “Everywhere people can step in, they should because these services might not be there and if they don’t choose to, the town will be left looking scruffy.

“The council has about 350 small pieces of ground on corners and in back alleys, some quite substantial and it simply cannot afford to look after them anymore.

“It’s already having difficulties and it will get worse.”

Darlington mother Amanda Llewellyn is helping to co-ordinate the work on Councillor Gerald Lee Park, which is situated at the corner of South Feethams and Victoria Embankment.

She said: “I’m not into politics but people should get involved with things like this because we have so much fun doing it and it’s a good excuse to get to know your neighbours and fantastic for the community.

“Everyone should think about doing things like this as we have all of these spaces that shouldn’t be left to wrack and ruin.”