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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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1,000 sign petition to save Carlisle play park equipment

More than 1,000 angry residents have signed a petition to save a park being stripped of its play equipment.

Belah play park photo
Councillors, parents and children on the play park area at Belah

Earlier this month Carlisle City Council’s ruling Labour executive agreed plans remove equipment from 21 play parks across the city in a cost-cutting move.

The plans were met with fierce opposition in some areas, particularly Belah, from where a host of parents protested outside the Civic Centre as they argued for their park to be dropped from the proposals.

Since a decision on the council’s budget stalled a fortnight ago, Gareth Ellis, the Conservative councillor for Belah, has been trying to drum up support to force a U-turn over the parks decision. Now more than 1,000 residents from all over the city have backed the petition, not only to save Belah’s play park but to improve the ageing equipment.

Mr Ellis said: “I’m pleased with the amount of support that it has got. The signatures have come from the immediate area around the park but also further afield.

“This is a petition organised by the local community and this is them showing that they don’t want the park to be taken down.

“I hope the council will recognise that they have made a mistake and support our aims – not just save it, but to get a better one. We want to improve it but we need the support of the council to do that.”

He also dismissed a previous suggestion made by the council’s executive that local residents themselves could take over the running of park.

“There are certain things we can do but there’s other that we can’t. Things like insurance and liability claims we are just not in a position to do,” said Mr Ellis.

“However, we can make sure that it is neat and tidy and report faulty equipment so that they [council] don’t have to send someone out there every week,” he added.

Council leaders say the cuts are needed because of the millions pounds less it is receiving from central government.

Stripping the 21 areas of equipment will make savings of about £25,000 – and potentially up to £400,000, taking into account the costs of bringing these areas up to scratch.

Elsie Martlew, the councillor responsible for the environment, has promised the authority will listen to any group concerned about equipment being removed.

The petition will be presented to the council tomorrow at the Civic Centre by children from the Belah area as another executive meeting to consider next year’s budget is held.

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