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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Carlisle play area saved after gran launches campaign

A second Carlisle play area has been saved from having its equipment removed after residents campaigned to stop the move.

Susan Wilkinson photo
Susan Wilkinson

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

Last month more than 1,000 Belah residents signed a petition to stop equipment being removed from the park in their community and now a second petition has been collected by people living in the Garlands area of Harraby.

Susan Wilkinson, 59, knew she wanted to do something to stop the removal of equipment from the park in HuntersCrescent because her four grandchildren regularly visited it.

So, after seeking advice from Harraby ward councillor Cyril Weber, she set up a petition and collected around 200 signatures from neighbours.

Mrs Wilkinson, from Leywell Drive, said: “The first I heard that our park was going to get knocked down was when I read about it in the paper.”

She and her grandchildren knocked on doors to raise awareness and gather support. She said: “If we hadn’t done it the park would be gone by now.”

Mrs Wilkinson said she was pleased with the outcome and added: “I felt the result was marvellous.

“It’s a lovely park. It’s only got five or six items in it but all the kids go to it.”

She said it showed that people could have an influence on decisions and advised anyone in a similar situation, to do the same.

She added: “Get a petition – you’ve got to try and do something haven’t you?”

Mr Weber said that officers had agreed that the equipment would stay in place for at least a year – when a new play area is due to be opened at the site of the new school in Pennine Way currently being built.

He said: “It’s worked out well for everybody – the fact that people have talked to each other and that the council agreed not to remove the equipment.”

And he added that the equipment could stay for longer than a year if residents came forward with a suitable plan for the park’s long-term survival. He said: “If a group comes together the portfolio holder has said she is willing to talk to them.”

Initially the list of sites earmarked in the cull included: Belah, Parkside, Hunters Crescent, Irthing Park in Brampton, Sheffield Street in Denton Holme and Raffles Avenue. Council leaders said cuts were needed because of the millions of pounds less it is receiving from central Government.

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

She said they were keen for local groups to work with them to maintain parks.

“We’re aware that a group of residents are keen for the Hunters Crescent play area to remain. We’ve delayed the removal of the play equipment,” she said.

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