Crawley's adventure playgrounds should be ‘run by the community for the community and the greater good of our town’
‘Run by the community for the community and the greater good of our town’.
That is one of the key messages put forward in a proposal to save Crawley’s adventure playgrounds.
Last week we reported a petition - spearheaded by Natalie Campbell - had raised 4,173 signatures to save the sites and with support from Daniel Armstrong and his Spotted: Crawley Facebook page and Delta Security Management, they have put together a proposal to show how the adventure playgrounds at The Mill in Bewbush and Cherry Lane in Langley Green can be saved and run successfully.
And this month they will present that proposal to Crawley Borough Council in the hope they will overturn their decision to close the play areas.
In February, a cabinet meeting saw the decision confirmed despite public outcry with Chris Mullins, cabinet member for wellbeing, saying the ffinancial figures were ‘unstainable’ and the closures would save the council £210,000 while keeping Creasys Drive, Millpond Cherry Lane and Waterlea open would would mean more than £500,000 would have to be spent on refurbishments.
The meeting in February was told that the number of children who use the playgrounds has fallen by 68 per cent over the past 20 years, from 94,918 in 2002/03 to 30,386 in 2019/20.
But David Grafham, CEO and founder of Delta Security Management, says it should not come down to just figures, you have have to look at who it affects.
He said: “When you look at the figures the council have used based on the last 20 years of the numbers dropping in use of the facilities, it doesn’t take into account is that you are not just dealing with numbers, you are dealing with human beings.
“That may be the kids’ only support network they have access to and that has to be taken into account.”
The closure of the playgrounds would mean the children of Crawley would not have access to facilities which will help them in their future development.
And Mr Armstrong feels very passionately that it would be a huge mistake to let this happen.
He said: “When I was a child I went to Creasys Drive playground, which is unfortunately not there anymore. There is no saving that.
“The staff there were my support network, my dad worked long hours at Gatwick Airport, he didn’t have any other childcare options.
“Me and my older sister would go there and go on outings with them, we had football tournaments and stuff like that and it was a great way of making friends outside of your school.
“Again it proves valuable in the future when you go to secondary school you know some of these kids from going to the playgrounds. I still have relationships now with people I met at Creasys Drive playground.
“For kids of future generations to not have that option growing up, for me, that’s enough for any parent to get involved with what we are trying to do.
“Everybody in Crawley has some sort of memories of these playgrounds and adventure play areas and we need to tap into those memories.”
Mrs Campbell, who started the campaign, believes these facilities are not just good for helping to kids to get out and about and socialise, they are important for them and their families’ mental health.
She said: “Anxiety and depression have gone off the charts in the last few years.
“That’s the key thing, they can go to people at these places and have someone.
“Where do the teenagers go if these facilities are not there? Do they sit at home on a computer?”
Kathy Rogers, who is Operations Support at Delta Security Management, added: “We have got the figures from a Public Health report the government did and we have put the highlights in our proposal and reflected on what the closure of the Millpond could have on child obesity, mental health, depression, anxiety not just the kids, but the parents and the people looking after these kids.
“And we can directly impact these figures that the government and local councils have pledged to change. But how do you do that with the closure of these facilities?”
The aim of the of the Project the team are proposing to the council is to prove and show that the facilities are required for the future generations of the community.
The proposal says: “Run by the community for the community and the greater good of the town.
“We want to offer life skills to kids who may not have that opportunity in other environments and who may find that the environment of the hub is a more absorbing one.
“It needs to be a safe place for kids and families alike and a place where the community can come together to support each other and celebrate.
“It also needs to be self-sufficient, giving an opportunity for local business to contribute to the community, offering services in childcare, advice and support all in the name of giving back.”