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Friday, 29 August 2014

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Scrap in the park

The swings have stopped squeaking, there’s no more laughter and the only sound is the rumble of a giant diesel engine as a digger goes to work.

Carlisle play area photo
The apparatus is removed from the Botcherby play area

It could be a scene from a sci-fi fantasy where a totalitarian regime has banned children.

It isn’t.

Welcome to children’s parks and leisure facilities in Carlisle in 2014.

The council has literally scrapped playtime for our youngsters.

Council workers are stealing the parks away without any warning.

At a time when there are constant nagging fears that our youngsters are too fat, too lazy, too bored, unsociable, violent and aggressive, Carlisle City Council has decided to rip up and tear out play parks.

The swings, slides and roundabouts are being sold as scrap.

Metal theft is a serious offence, but stealing playtime away from children is altogether more heinous.

Three play areas have disappeared already. Another 18 are targeted.

The savings from this deeply worrying action are so small that councillors will have to copper up to establish the final amount.

The authority needs to make millions of pounds in savings.

It estimates bulldozing the parks will contribute £25,000 in the short term and as much as £400,000 over the years to come.

The worst of it is that they have not even given local residents any warning of when the bulldozers would move in.

Presumably to avoid any demonstrations and plenty of justifiable critical, disparaging and derogatory media coverage.

They have also not given locals the chance to organise themselves into a group to maintain the play areas or to find the funding to keep them going.

The council is aiming to save money, but the true cost of this will only be totalled up in the years to come.

Kids need a place to play, to run around and let off steam. To find new friends and ease any boredom.

Leave them with nowt to do and the only thing they will do is cause trouble.

As a kid, I grew up near to where a housing estate was being built.

Instead of playing on our local park, we would sometimes go to the building site.

Me and my mates had great fun climbing the huge soil heaps, crawling through unlaid sewage pipes and making bike ramps from the bricks and planks of wood lying around. But we chose to do that. We didn’t play in muddy craters because that was the only option we had.

That is what Carlisle council is leaving behind for our youngsters.

That and an awful lot of angry and enraged families.

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