Twenty children’s play areas set to be closed
TWENTY children’s play areas across Crawley are set to close in less than two weeks.
Residents have been sent letters informing them of the the plans.
The council said the areas were singled out due to very low usage – but Labour councillors have condemned the plans and called for a rethink.
Bewbush is facing 11 closures and losing 4,000 square metres worth of play areas.
Cllr Michael Jones (Lab, Bewbush) said: “We were not told that this was being rushed through with such indecent haste and without proper consultation with the community.
“These letters went out right in the middle of the summer holidays. If the council had its way, the play areas would have been removed before the schools went back, when parents could have talked to each other.
“Bewbush is a young neighbourhood with lots of families with children. It cannot afford a cavalier cull of playgrounds for the sake of it.”
Cllr Lenny Walker, (Con, Maidenbower) cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “The play value on some of these areas is very limited. I’m very keen for young people to have play areas that are fit for purpose and we’ve made a substantial commitment to ensure that some of this dated equipment is replaced.
“New playparks will have more modern equipment suitable to a wider age range. We want to ensure children have to walk no more than 15 minutes to the nearest play area.”
Nigel Sheehan, head of Community Services at Crawley Borough Council, said the council was investing £600,000 in playparks on top of £300,000 in the last 18 months.
He said the areas would initially be kept as green spaces and residents would be consulted on future use.
The council wrote to 450 Bewbush residents three weeks before the scheduled start of the removals. Out of 14 replies three were negative.
Plans to close three Bewbush playparks in Morecambe Close and Lutyens Close were halted after the feedback from residents and Labour councillors.
The areas will be monitored again in September as children leave school and will be maintained if well-used.
Cllr Chris Cheshire (Lab, Bewbush) accepted not all the parks were well-used but criticised the council’s approach.
She said: “I’m very disappointed with the insensitive way the council has dealt with this. People have only been told what is happening at their nearest play area, but have no knowledge what’s happening further afield in Bewbush.”
The areas earmarked for closure in Bewbush are Coxcomb Walk, Cowfold Close, Wisborough Court, Brideake Close, Glanville Walk, Ninfield Court, Hawkesmoore Road, Padstow Walk, Colwyn Close, Halnaker Walk and Perkstead Close.
An initial start date of September 3 has now been pushed back to September 10.
Councillors have arranged a meeting with community forum Talk Bewbush on at Bewbish Primary School for residents to share their views with council officials on Wednesday September 5.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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