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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Equipment being ripped out of Carlisle play areas

Angry residents have expressed their dismay after diggers began ripping out play equipment from their communities.

Carlisle play areas photo
Rob Betton

Carlisle City Council is in the process of removing swings, slides and roundabouts from 21 play parks across the city in a controversial cost-cutting move.

Work has already begun in Botcherby, with the play area at Broadoaks Grange off Durranhill Road now standing empty. The speed of the move has prompted an outcry from locals.

The equipment at nearby Scotby Close has also been removed

Rob Betton, city councillor for Botcherby, hit out at the authority for ever allowing it to get this far.

“The council didn’t tell anyone when they were coming so people were waking up wondering what was happening,” he said.

“It’s absolutely disgusting – for an administration that says it cares they are going the wrong way about it.

“Where are the kids going to play now? Two of the parks which are being cleared out look fine and are well used.

“The play area off Durranhill Road now looks like a brown crater with tyre marks through it.”

Elsie Batey, a member of the Botcherby Residents’ Action Group, said the community is “absolutely furious”.

“I don’t think it’s right to take play equipment out anywhere – they are building parks in other places.

“We want a face-to-face consultation with those who made this decision because children and parentshere just don’t understand why.

“None of us are happy about this – children here need all the facilities they can acquire.”

She added that the community feels it has been “sold down the river” for £25,000.

The cash-strapped city council is clearing slides, swings and other equipment, which has fallen into a state of disrepair, from 21 of its 69 play areas as it says it can no longer afford to maintain them.

Leaders say it 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.

But Mr Betton claims the removal work will actually cost the public more than £30,000. Mr Betton also claims £17,000 was spent on maintaining play areas last year but this year there is no budget at all.

But the city council has rubbished these claims, insisting the costs will be absorbed within existing budgets as the work is being carried out by council staff.

A spokeswoman confirmed the total one-off cost is actually estimated at around £5,000 in staff time, equipment hire and disposal costs.

The authority also dismissed Mr Betton’s claims that there would be no maintenance budget this year.

Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer.

Have your say

It is a pity that Mrs. Martlew has brought politics into a local issue that should not have been considered as an appropriate way to save money. The benefits to young children of outdoor physical exercise far outweighs the minor costs of saving £25000. However, Carlisle City Council is only following the precedents set in the past of ignoring commonsense and the wishes of its residents and others from the hinterland that use Carlisle for its amenities. In the past our three lasses have used the playparks, The Alhambra, the music centre, Sands Centre & etc. All three were born in the former maternity unit. I have already sent an email to Carlisle City Council outlining my concerns to these closures of playground facilities, but of course no reply. My suggestion was to allow the local communities around the threatened play parks to be given time to organise a community funding appeal and also approaching local businesses for sponsorship for maintenance. I suggest that the City Council had already made up its mind to ignore the democratic process of allowing local communities to be involved in these types of issues. I further suggest that the "we know best" syndrome exists within Carlisle City Council.

Hope these thoughts help - many thanks for giving me the opportunity to added my concerns to the protests.

Posted by Dennis Dickins on 12 March 2014 at 21:46

Was very very sad to see that our nearest play area (Adelaide Street) had gone - vanished in the air.

Posted by Sad citizen on 12 March 2014 at 20:05

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