The Lib Dems running B&NES Council are listening to residents’ views on the future of ten local play areas. The aim of these consultations is to bring the public into the conversation about options including re-landscaping to encourage imaginative, natural play or creating engaging spaces for community use.
Safety is the key issue here. The 60 play areas maintained by the Council must be regularly inspected to ensure equipment is safe for children to use. However, years of funding cuts by the government have led to considerable strain on Council finances. The previous, Conservative-led Council administration cut the number of play inspectors, making it difficult to ensure the required level of inspection.
Rather than simply remove the few items of play equipment, the Lib Dems on B&NES Council want to work with local people to find better solutions. In some cases, Town and Parish Councils or local residents’ associations have expressed interest in taking charge of the play areas. There is no plan to close any parks or open spaces.
Councillor Paul Crossley, Cabinet Member for Community Services said:
“The Lib Dems are investing in play facilities across the B&NES Council area. This includes play areas such as Innox Park, Sandpits Play Area in Monksdale Road, and Shakespeare Road in Westfield. I’m particularly excited about the new, accessible facilities planned for Alexandra Park.
“A review carried out under the previous administration showed some play areas are underused because of duplication with other nearby parks. This is an opportunity to add variety and create spaces that people of all ages can enjoy, whilst making sure that all play areas are properly maintained and inspected.
“We are making every effort to listen to local residents and explore what choices are available for play in B&NES. I have joined staff at the St Saviours and Calton Road play consultations and when we talk with parents about the plans they are quite enthusiastic. We are also in discussions with Parish Councils and residents’ associations, who may be able to take on responsibility for play areas.
“Information and feedback sessions are being held at each of the ten areas so parents can share their ideas for how the areas can be re-landscaped, ensuring these valuable public spaces are attractive and welcoming to everyone using them. Ideas for some include creating a community garden, natural play and planting more trees and wildflowers to improve biodiversity.”
Details of the feedback sessions, taking place throughout September, can be found at the following link