community

Councillor Jean O’Donnell on the re-development of Charlton's pond.

Charlton's Pond's falling somewhere between a park and a civic amenity. Until parks and gardens wake up and realise this, we’ll still have this small anomaly. The youngsters got interested in the fishing here and before you knew it, their dads were coming along, their fathers. It’s is like top seed, it’s growing and it’s absolutely marvellous. It’s the community engagement as much as anything. Once that’s caught up things seem to flow from there, the interest grows, offshoots, just from grabbing their interest initially, and that will be like a nucleus to start it off.

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Local Mum, on the benefits of fishing spaces like Charlton’s Pond, Billingham.

Fishing spaces like Charlton’s Pond are absolutely brilliant. It's even good for the parents to have a spare half hour to chill out. Every time there’s a junior match on we come down. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to stay the full time, but we try and stay as much as we can. But I think most of the time the kids like to see you there. I’ve never fancied angling myself, but it’s nice sometimes just to sit and watch them fish, it's relaxing. The only problem here is for the girls, there’s nowhere to go to the loo.

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Local Mum, on the positive atmosphere at Charlton’s Pond, Billingham.

Charlton's Pond is ideal for the kids that are local, because a lot of them can come on their bikes or walk. We’re just so chuffed that it’s something for the kids to do and it’s inexpensive. The good thing about it is everybody’s interested, even if they haven’t caught anything. Everyone’s interested in walking around and seeing what everyone else has done. It’s a nice atmosphere. There were two twins that used to fish quite often, and obviously they get to a certain age, and with this being junior, they don’t fish the matches anymore, but it was nice to watch. You could see them growing up.

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Neil, Tackle Box shop owner (Billingham) on supporting the local junior angling club

The Tackle Box is the centre for the local angling club. So basically anything to do with the club, if you want to join the club, you come here first. But regarding the kids, we get a heck of a lot of kids. The kids are fantastic. They are always welcome in the shop. When they used to first come in they would wonder around, but since Barry at the junior club and the other bailiffs started getting involved with the kids over at the pond, they have such an interest in it now and they listen to what you say. They are so engrossed in fishing, it’s fantastic.

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Neil, Tackle Box shop owner, on the return of community to Charlton's Pond.

Charlton's Pond’s been sown from a pretty poor area. It used to create a habitat for a lot of unsavoury people, and that has been changed around now. I always remember, when I saw the turning point about 2 or 3 years ago, it was a Wednesday night, and we used to have summer evening fishing matches. It was for the adults and it was the first one I took part in. It was a lovely night and it was one of the first matches we had on the pond since it was done up. It sounds silly, but it was like a film that I’ve seen on TV with Tommy Steel in it.

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PC Gary Poser, coordinator of the BAIT project, Nottingham

There used to be a big barrier on this estate, if you ever said anything to the police people would think you were a grass. If police had knocked at your door, as soon as they’d left people would be round there, "why’s police come to your door?"...Sometimes it’s still a bit like that, but now, I find I’m quite well known on the estate, people do actually come and talk to me, people do realise I’m out and about on the estate, people know about the BAIT project.

Robbie, level 2 coach, on his involvement in the restoration of Charlton’s Pond

We used to come over here as kids and fish the pond but it was starting to get run down. Teenagers were coming over here drinking and drug abuse and it was a place not to go. When we were coming over here as kids there were families coming over and picnics. But it had got to the stage where no one was coming over here. So with that in mind we wanted to try to get it back to how it was. That was the aim really, to get the kids back involved, to enjoy fishing the pond like when we were kids. And obviously through the volunteers and grant money we’ve managed to pull it all together.
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