'It took us six hours to clean up': City centre park forced to close early after being 'overwhelmed' on hottest weekend of the year

A city centre park was forced to close early after becoming 'overwhelmed' by people using it to drink and leaving litter behind, a park spokesperson has said.

Residents of New Islington Marina, near Ancoats, were dismayed to find that Cotton Field Park had closed before 4pm on Sunday (May 12) - despite it being one of the hottest days of the year so far. The park, which is owned by Plumlife, is supposed to stay open until 8pm in the summer months - but the owners said closing the park early is 'necessary' on 'very rare occasions'.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, an on-site spokesperson said it took a team six hours to clean the park up after Saturday's heatwave, resulting in the early closure on Sunday. He added large numbers of non-locals bringing alcohol into the park and leaving litter behind led to a 'nasty situation', which he said 'isn't fair' to those who live in the area.

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"We were overwhelmed by people turning up to the marina," he said. "A lot of them are not people that live locally, they're coming in to Manchester to use the park. They're bringing boxes of booze, and we are a no-alcohol park.

"We're fully open-minded, we understand it was a hot day. But they depart and leave all their stuff in the park. It took us six hours to clean up. We had to go around the whole park cleaning up bags, umbrellas, clothes, bottles."

He said those working at the marina have been in contact with Plumlife and Manchester City Council asking for more bins. Manchester City Council said there are 'ample bins' available and after busy periods the park is always 'well maintained' and 'reset' before reopening to the public.

"It's a really nasty situation for us," the marina spokesperson said. "Everyone is losing out here. It's not fair. I have spoken to the council. They said if I have a health and safety issue I have a duty to close the park. We're talking people using the park to go to the toilet in as well. If this happens again we'll keep closing the park. Until that happens [people clean up] we're trapped.

"I hate doing it because I want the park to remain open. We're constantly educating. We're open-minded and liberal enough to accept that people want to have a nice time. But we can't accept the level of abuse."

On X, Manchester Lib Dems, who represent the area on Manchester City Council, wrote: "The park was over capacity so closed to protect the space as it was becoming unmanageable for marina staff. Was just a one off we have been told by waterpride estates, will keep an eye on this."

Caroline Millington, Director of Private Sector Management at Plumlife, said: “The park attracts a significant number of people particularly when the sun is out over a weekend and unfortunately this can lead to challenges including noise, litter and overcrowding.

"On very rare occasions it may be necessary to close the park early to avoid any issues and unfortunately, Waterpride had to take that decision over the weekend. We are speaking with the Council and Waterpride to see if any further measures could be explored to avoid early closures in the future.”

Ancoats Green, which lies around the corner from Cotton Field Park, is currently under development, which could be contributing to an increased number of visitors to the marina.

A Manchester City Council spokesperson said: "Cotton Field Park is managed by a third party on behalf of the Council and includes the maintenance, cleaning, security and opening and closing of the park. This agreement does not extend to the marina itself, which is managed by a specialised marina operator.

"The park is open to the public and therefore it's not possible to forecast how busy it will get. During spells of warm weather it can be very popular, and the management company must use their discretion about limiting access to manage numbers and ensure public safety.

"Following busy periods, the space is always well maintained, rubbish removed, and the park reset before opening to the public again. There are also ample bins available for public use."