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'Tearing down Carlisle play parks like actions of communist state'

A councillor has compared the decision to send bulldozers to tear down play parks in Carlisle to the actions of a “communist state”.

John Collier photo
John Collier

John Collier, Carlisle city councillor for Burgh, made the claim during a city council debate on the future of Carlisle’s play parks.

Botcherby resident Jeff Bomford, 29, presented a 1,312-signature petition at the meeting, asking the council to put equipment back into the play areas.

It was one of 21 play parks out of 69 which have been demolished as part of cost-cutting moves to save at least £25,000.

But Mr Collier, a Conservative, strongly criticised Labour councillors for the way the plan was carried out. He said: “I can’t understand sending bulldozers in at dawn.

“This is like a communist state and I think [Labour] should apologise to the people of the city.”

The Labour-controlled council sanctioned the move earlier this year and it led to the removal of play facilities at Broadoaks Grange, Botcherby, Peel Street, Raffles, Chesterholm, Sandsfield Park, Raiselands Road, Morton Park, and Sandysykes, Longtown.

Mr Bomford’s petition follows similar successful campaigns by Belah and Harraby residents after equipment in their play areas was earmarked for removal.

Mr Bomford said: “Children in Botcherby have been left with only three parks, which is nowhere near adequate for the number of children in the community.

“There’s no equipment for toddlers and two to five-year-olds have to be taken much further away.”

The News & Star spoke to families in the areas where play parks had been demolished, with Morton residents revealing their anguish.

Sharon Watson, 31, said her eight-year-old daughter Alysha cried when she heard the equipment was being taken away.

Botcherby Independent councillor Rob Betton lambasted the Labour leadership for the decision.

He said: “Where were you when the petition got circulated? Where were you when the children in tears wanted to know where their play areas had gone?

“All to save £25,000. A piffling amount of money, not even a drop in the ocean of the budget of this council.”

It was agreed that council members would invite representatives from the Botcherby community to meet officers and councillors to explore future options.

Councillor Elsie Martlew said: “I have been happy to work with community groups to shape future management of the play areas.

”I think the way forward is for the council to work in partnership with the community.”

Have your say

This act looks even worse when you consider the huge amount that the council give to prop up Carlisle Leisure Ltd.

Posted by Radicol on 7 May 2014 at 16:48

When I was a kid I used to play on building sites; derelict houses; down the harbour near steep sides and deep water; on old industrial remains full of toxic materials, deep holes, confined spaces and sharp edges, all of which we boys were blissfully unaware.

Of course there were injuries, some not so bad, some quite serious.

Children are naturally inquisitive and will seek out adventure, at whatever cost. Does no-one in authority realise that play-parks allow children to grow up and learn to manage risk in a safe and managed environment?

Are we to look forward to a spate of injuries (or worse) to those unfortunate youngsters who manage to fall out of trees, off roofs, or become entangled in industrial machines, all because their play areas have been done away with?

Posted by Russell Barnes on 7 May 2014 at 15:15

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