Crawley's Adventure Playgrounds: How they can be saved and run successfully

The main factor in the council’s decision to close to Crawley's adventure playgrounds was financial.

Sunday, 12th September 2021, 2:54 pm

But Crawley Borough Council leader Peter Lamb said the council have always said they have been open to alternatives.

Last week he said: “While the council is already committed to keeping Cherry Lane and Waterlea Adventure Playgrounds open, we have always said we were open to viable community solutions for retaining the other playgrounds and we are not currently considering any other use for either site.

Children at the Millpond adventure playground

“We hope that such a solution may yet be found, but we need to be clear that reopening the sites proposed for closure or retaining supervised play would only be possible if an external organisation were willing to commit to providing hundreds of thousands of pounds of external funding each year.”

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And the project team of Natalie Campbell, Daniel Armstrong, David Grafham and Kathy Rogers believe they can achieve this - but they need more information.

Mr Armstrong said: “The potential for private and fundraising events are huge.

“Once the council tell us the exact figure about the running costs, we will then have a target and we can make this viable option.

“If we have the correct figure we need to aim for, then we can aim for that.

“At the moment we are planning the unknown. And we can’t move forward until we have that. We can then start organising fundraising events and approaching local and national businesses for funding.

“We need that figure.”

READ MORE Crawley's adventure playgrounds should be ‘run by the community for the community and the greater good of our town’Mr Grafham said they are meeting with Katie Wilson, head of Community Services at Crawley Borough Council, where they can ‘dig a little deeper’ into the figures and then they can move forward.

He said: “The ideal result will be the council to overturn the decision and keep it open.

“That said I don’t think keeping it open is enough because three or four years down the line the same conversation will take place.

“It’s a case of keeping open it open and then working with the council to show the potential of what can be done to make it cost effective.”

Mrs Rogers added: “We need more time.

"We haven’t had the figures from the council so we are unable to put a business plan together, which we will do as a group and along with Crawley Community Action Group, who will help with the more technical side.

“This initial proposal is to give us more time to get the official information from the council. We can then put together our business plan, which is not only to keep it open, but as David said to keep it long-term and get a 15-20 year plan in place.

"We should be working with the council to keep it running under similar bones as it is now - a manned site, but better.

“We know we can make it better. We all know the potential of it from a community site, to a business site. They just haven’t invested in it.”

Mrs Campbell said: “They have no plans for the site. They are not doing anything with it. If they haven’t got a plan in place let us do it. We actually care about our kids and we are here for them.”

In their proposal, the team have said the main cost will be ‘in people’s time and resources that they are willing to offer’.

A Go Fund-Me page has been established to assist with the campaign should it be needed.

They are looking for the sites to be paid attractions but they have considered asking for voluntary contributions should people want.

They are also encouraging businesses on site to support, like a nursery which would offer some revenue to be put straight back into the running of the site.

In the proposal they said: “We would solely reliant on the volunteer services of the people involved in the project.

“This would of course be done in line with an agreement that was undertaken with the council of which we are open to discussions and or course fall in line with all legislation and health and safety regulations as well as the Child Play Services.”