CALLS have been made for a Glasgow park to be given City Status in an attempt to banish gangs, vandalism, litter and neglect.

The status would mean more cash and better upkeep of Queen's Park in the South Side, which is dedicated to the memory of Mary, Queen Of Scots.

First Minister-elect and South Side MSP Nicola Sturgeon is also backing calls from the Friends Of Queen's Park group to stop the decline of the 148-acre park, which was created in 1857.

She said: "I am very supportive of the hard work being done by the Friends Of Queen's Park. If the lack of city park status leads to a lower level of investment that must be challenged.

"Queen's Park is well used and much loved and Glasgow City Council needs to recognise how strongly local people feel about this."

Accountant Tony Halifax, a founder member of the Friends Of Queen's Park and chairman of Shawlands and Strathbungo Commun­ity Council, said the group's main aim was to achieve City Park Status in an attempt to stop the "decline" of Queen's Park.

The park was the scene of the rape and murder in May 2008 of Moira Jones, but her family and local people have rallied round to keep the park alive with happier events, such as Moira's Run last month.

Ms Jones's brother Grant, who lives in the area, told last month how vandals regularly target the memorial stone and flowers lain by Moira's family at the spot where her body was found.

Mr Halifax said: "We have now got a strategic plan, and City Park Status is our aim because without that there is no point.

"Without City Park Status Queen's Park will go to wrack and ruin. It is already happening. Glasgow City Council is managing the decline of the park.

"Grant and I regularly go into the park and the memorial and other areas are being vandalised.

"When you go to the West End the parks they are like night and day compared to Queen's Park. Why should the South Side suffer? We all live in Glasgow, we all pay council tax, yet we are treated in this way. It is shameful.

"You have got a council here that is out of control and we have met three community councils and have the support from them all for city status.

"There are gangs hanging around the park, vandalism, litter and general neglect.

"People are expressing concerns and doubts about the park, even my wife who often walks through the park is getting uneasy about it."

Grant said the vandalism of his sister's memorial made him "sick".

He added: "Despite what happened to my sister there I think Queen's Park really is a beautiful park with so much potential.

"There are large gangs of children always in the park engaging in anti-social behaviour. There is a feeling of lawlessness.

"I have witnessed many incidents but one that was particularly disturbing was watching an older man's small dog being picked up by its front leg. The gentleman was extremely distressed, as was the dog. I intervened and was verbally abused."

Glasgow City Council denied "managing the decline" of the park.

A spokesman said: "As anyone working with us constructively would know, it is untrue to say the council is purposefully managing the decline of Queen's Park.

"The park is one of eight in the city to hold Green Flag status and has undergone extensive refurbishment work in recent years.

"It offers a range of activities and attractions, from the winter gardens and bandstand to the free soft play area and reptile house, as well as hosting the Southside Festival.

"The Queen's Park Arena has been completely restored, the entrance gates refurbished and the play area at Balvicar Street is also set to be upgraded.

"As one of Glasgow's most loved parks, detailed maintenance is carried out across the various grass areas, the naturalised pond and wildflower beds."

Chief Inspector Carol McGuire, the Area Commander for Linn and Langside, said she was not aware of any "significant issues" of disorder and gangs in the park. She said local people should report incidents to the police immediately.