A community group has questioned the decision by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to pay £142,000 to a specialist company.

Local group the Friends of Springfield Park (FoSP) have called for Alder Hey to return the parkland that was lost during the expansion of the hospital.

The park proposals fall within the context of a legal land swap agreement made between Liverpool City Council and Alder Hey in 2012 to allow the new hospital to be built on land at Springfield Park.

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As part of the land exchange agreement with Liverpool city council made in 2012, Alder Hey is returning 9.4 hectares of land back to council ownership by replacing the old Alder Hey hospital with enhanced park land. Phase one of this agreement is now complete.

Following the submission of a Freedom of Information Act request by FoSP it has now emerged that Alder Hey paid £142,000 to a company called Capacity Lab.

Bosses at Alder Hey have said that they paid the money to Capacity Lab, who work with public sector and third way organisations, for their work in securing funding for the Springfield Park area.

A spokesperson for the FoSP said: "We have been established for 10 years and have done some amazing voluntary work on the park in partnership with Liverpool city council without any financial assistance from Alder Hey.

"We are devastated that Capacity Lab has been paid £142,000 over the last two years with no visible evidence of ever contributing to the community or the park.

"We in the community want to know where this £142,000 came from within the trust.

"The two acres have now been returned but there is nothing on there but grass and tarmac. It's not really good enough and we wonder what Capacity Lab's role has been. We are tired of the fantasies of the trust board. After years they have handed back some grass and tarmac. Where is the multi use games area we were promised."

A spokesperson for Alder Hey said: "Alder Hey is spending £6.2 million on delivering the restored Springfield Park. This will be a space that promotes health and well-being, be an attractive place for visitors, and enhances the quality of life for all our community.

"Capacity Lab are keen to work with all parts of the community and since March 2020 they have helped deliver events to bring people on to the park and make Springfield Park a destination.

"Events have included health and wellbeing activities such as a story trail weekend by The Reader, a Halloween Xplorer event, Zumba and Zumbini sessions, a photography competition, inflatable darts and more.

Land returned to the community by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital
Land returned to the community by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

"Acting as an independent party from the hospital, Capacity’s role is to secure the investment needed to deliver enhanced features for the park. By working with community partners, they have already been successful in securing additional funding for Springfield Park including £144,000 over two years for a disability cycling centre based in the park and a full summer of events delivered by Hype Merseyside.

"Capacity are also in discussions with funders and the landowner to explore delivery of a heritage trail in Springfield Park and options for a café and community hub in Springfield to bids totalling over £1m for features that would generate a long term sustainable income for the park.

"Capacity has also delivered events to bring people onto the park and make Springfield Park a destination. Events have included health and wellbeing activities such as a story trail weekend by The Reader, a Halloween Xplorer event, Zumba and Zumbini sessions, a photography competition, inflatable darts and more.

"Now that Phase 1 of the park is due to be opened and handed over to Liverpool City Council, after a delay due to technical legal processes, Capacity are working on further initiatives and funding bids to develop a thriving Springfield Park that has something for everyone."

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