Playpark closures halted
A PLAN to remove more than 20 children’s playparks in Crawley has been halted after an outcry from opposition councillors.
The council was due to start taking away the play equipment in less than a week but it will now give residents more time to have their say.
In a statement announcing the decision the council said the mostly Bewbush parks were not used enough to justify the cost of their upkeep.
A council spokesman said: “The small play parks are old, underused and have extremely limited play value. In many cases they attract anti-social behaviour.
“The cost of maintaining them is very high, particularly when compared to how much they are used.”
A decision to replace smaller play areas with a few larger, higher quality ones was made in 2006/07.
The council has pledged nearly a million pounds towards play areas across town in the next four years - plus £60,000 in Bewbush alone.
Notification letters were sent to 450 Bewbush residents explaining plans to remove 14 play areas three weeks before the scheduled start of the scheme (September 3).
But Labour councillors in Bewbush crisicised the timing of the announcement in the summer holidays and called for a re-think.
The council agreed to re-examine the use of three parks in Morecambe Close and Lutyens Close after residents questioned the closures before putting all the closures on hold.
Cllr Michael Jones (Lab, Bewbush) said: “The council’s grudging agreement to put the playground removal programme on hold is less than convincing. I fear the driving force for this remains the Tory leadership’s desire to cut maintenance costs, not what the community wants.
“This is not a U-turn, it is no more than the consultation that they promised when it was first proposed several years ago, and they had to be shamed into even doing this when the time came.”
Cllr Marion Ayling (Lab, Bewbush) said: “The council claim all of these playgrounds have ‘low quality’ play value? Well, who is the judge of that? Why should it be assumed that children don’t enjoy the facilities? Who’s asked them, or their parents?
“Many of these playgrounds have been allowed to decline, and benches have been taken away from some of them. Removing the play facilities will leave empty spaces that will do nothing to stop any anti-social behaviour that may occur.”
Phil Rogers, the council’s director of community services, will attend a public meeting at Bewbush Primary School today (Wednesday September 5) at 6pm to provide more in-depth information.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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