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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Carlisle play parks to be stripped of equipment

Twenty-one Carlisle parks are to have their slides, swings and roundabouts removed as more cost cuts begin to bite.

Play park photo
Play areas like Irthing Park, Brampton, will be hit

The equipment will be removed from nearly a third of all city council-run children’s play areas because the authority can no longer afford to maintain them.

It follows a four-month review of all Carlisle City Council’s 69 play areas in a bid to slice £25,000 from its budget in the wake of continuing Government spending cuts.

Elsie Martlew, deputy leader of the Labour-run authority, insists the 21 parks are not being closed.

Instead, failing equipment is being torn out to open up space for what she described as “imaginative play”, saying: “This is the sharp end of the cuts.”

Almost £60,000 is being spent to upgrade other parks in the district that the council says are better used.

But Gareth Ellis, deputy leader of the council’s opposition Conservative, said he was disappointed about how the usage of each park was decided. He revealed that a petition of hundreds of signatures had been drawn up in his ward, Belah, calling for improvements to their local park.

Mr Ellis said: “Although the equipment is poor it is still extremely well used. It seems the value of these play areas has been a desk-based evaluation.”

The cash-strapped council, which faces a budget shortfall of nearly £4m over the next five years, launched the review of its play areas last October.

Staff began gathering information about the condition of equipment and how regularly each park was being used last spring.

The authority says the 21 play areas which will be affected by the cull have been identified as underused and too expensive to maintain.

These areas will be emptied and relandscaped – meaning children will have to use their imaginations as to how they use the space.

The council said a public consultation was not held because it would have been too expensive to seek feedback on every site, but information was passed on to members to feed into their communities.

Meanwhile, the authority is investing £59,000 in new surfaces and equipment at 13 well-used play areas to turn them into super-parks like its two flagship sites at Bitts Park and Chances Park in Morton.

In addition, a new £75,000 play park will be created in a field off Dale End Road, Upperby, paid for by Story Homes, which is building hundreds of homes in the area.

And Melbourne Park, off Warwick Road in the city centre, will also get a £25,000 makeover thanks to developers’ cash.

Other sites have also been identified for improvement as part of new developments, such as the Durranhill Road project.

Further investment has been earmarked at Hammonds Pond after plans for 300 new homes off Blackwell Road were recently unveiled.

Mrs Martlew said: “Our budget has been absolutely hammered. We would rather provide good quality play facilities and take equipment out of those in a bad state.”

Phil Gray, green spaces manager, revealed that equipment at some parks was so badly rusted it had to be removed.

“We won’t settle for second best and some of the current stock of equipment is well past its shelf life and could be dangerous,” he said.

Angela Cullerton, director of local environment, added: “Our team has been able to keep the equipment going with the maintenance budget we’ve had when it should have been replaced.

“But it has come to the point where we can’t make do and mend anymore.”

Conservative group leader John Mallinson hit out at the lack of public consultation.

Trevor Allison, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the city council, said he wasn’t against the move in principal as long as the remaining sites were well maintained and easily accessible.

It is not known when the equipment will be scrapped.

These are the 21 play areas due to be cleared of their equipment:
Adelaide Street, St Aidan’s
Belah Parkside, Belah
Borrowdale Road, Morton
Broadoaks Grange, Botcherby
Chesterholm, Yewdale
Coniston Way, Yewdale
Hunters Crescent, Garlands
Irthing Park, Brampton
Lonsdale Grange, Harraby
Moor Crescent, Longtown
New Mills, Denton Holme
Old Road Amenity Green Space, Longtown
Peel Street, Castle
Raffles Avenue, Belle Vue
Raiselands Road, Morton
Sandysykes, Longtown
Scotby Gardens, Botcherby
Sheffield Street, Denton Holme
Summerfields, Dalston
St Edmunds Park, Yewdale
Toronto Street, Currock

These are the 13 play areas earmarked for investment:
Hammond’s Pond, Upperby – £15,000
Yewdale Park, Yewdale – £10,000
Etterby Gardens, Stanwix – £5,000
Clark’s Field, Stanwix – £5,000
Parkland Village, Garlands – £4,000
Fusehill Street, St Aidan’s – £3,000
Briar Bank, Belah – £3,000
Broad Street, St Aidan’s – £3,000
Denton Street, Denton Holme – £3,000
Bitts Park, Castle – £3,000
Windsor Way, Belah – £2,000
Chance’s Park, Morton – £2,000
Scotby Road, Botcherby – £1,000

Have your say

CG

The opposition were outnumbered by Labour councillors who towed the party line and voted to scrap the parks. If the role were reversed we would have seen a campaign led by Labour against Tory cuts, with Labour councillors chaining themselves to swings and our future MP candidate seeking as much publicity as possible - she loves skydiving, abseiling, sleeping rough, having fun with firefighters etc. but saving children's parks? Nah, there's no merit in that.

Labour swept it under the carpet, happy to support the Arts whilst forcing children to grow up without parks and resort to playing on street corners.

Remember this at the next local election.

Posted by Anon on 6 February 2014 at 07:30

Just seen the kiddies on the news. Do we know what happened? Did the council back down?

Posted by CG on 5 February 2014 at 07:55

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