It has been over two months since Awen cultural trust closed the main gates to cars into Bryngarw Country Park, in support of the measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Today the phased re-opening of the country park begins. Here is the statement from Awen.
“We know many of you have been missing your regular visits from further afield, and are eager to know when they can resume. We realise that lockdown has been particularly challenging for those who do not have a lot of living space, a garden, or a secure place for children to run around in.
“We also understand that for our disabled visitors, our closure has often been a source of frustration, because we have been unable to provide suitable car parking arrangements for you.
“For others who live locally, and are able to walk in and around Bryngarw using the public rights of way access points, we know that the Country Park has been a haven during this time of uncertainty.
“Working in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council, we have not taken any decisions about Bryngarw Country Park lightly. They have, and will continue to be made, first and foremost in the health, safety and wellbeing interests of our visitors, volunteers and staff.
“We have been clear from the offset that we will assess and respond to the latest official guidance from the Welsh Government, and play our role in preventing the spread of coronavirus by adopting the necessary measures to do this.
“In light of this guidance, Bryngarw, like other “beauty spots” and “tourist attractions”, have remained closed to travelling traffic for the lockdown period in Wales. Children’s play areas have also been out of bounds.
“For those who have been able to walk to Bryngarw for exercise during the closure period – and have followed government guidelines whilst visiting – we are thankful for your care and support.
“On 29th May, Welsh Government announced that travel for exercise or visiting another household outdoors should, as a general rule, not exceed five miles from home.
“Since that time, we have been developing plans, in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council, on how we can safely increase access to Bryngarw Country Park.
“We believe a phased approach, with incremental changes, is the best way forward, and will give our visitors the confidence to return to Bryngarw Country Park when the time is right.
“Phase 1 will begin on Friday 12th June when our car park will reopen between 10am and 4pm only. The main gates will be closed to vehicles outside of these times. As visits to Bryngarw should be short and for exercise only, we will not be operating our daily car parking charge during this initial phase.
“Our contactless card machine will be open, however, if you would like to leave a voluntary donation of £3 towards the maintenance of Bryngarw Country Park, which is managed by a registered charity. Any income towards supporting Awen Cultural Trust, B-Leaf and the Park during this time is gratefully appreciated.
“During this phase, we will not be opening the public toilets. This is to minimise our visitors’ exposure to potentially infected surfaces. Visitors will also be advised not to utilise the children’s play area and outdoor gym equipment to reduce the potential spread of Covid-19 on surfaces which are not regularly wiped down.
“B-Leaf garden centre and Cedars Tearoom remain closed to visitors.
“Signs reminding visitors of safety precautions will be placed around Bryngarw Country Park and we strongly recommend hand washing/sanitising before and after visiting. It is imperative that visitors follow the Welsh Government’s guidance on social distancing within Bryngarw Country Park, and be mindful of passing others on narrow pathways.
“South Wales Police officers will continue to visit Bryngarw to ensure that the official guidance is being adhered to and advise visitors where necessary.
“Phase 1 of reopening will be reviewed on an ongoing basis in the hope of taking steps to increase available facilities, however, should the Park experience large gatherings or public safety be compromised we will have no alternative but to close our main gates once more.
“We look forward to a time when we can welcome you back to Bryngarw with all facilities open, but in the meantime, we hope you will continue to support our cautious approach.”