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Anger as 11 Telford play areas face the axe

By Lisa O'Brien | Telford | News | Published:

Nearly a dozen play areas are facing the axe across Telford, sparking protest from residents.

A letter has been sent to residents by Telford & Wrekin Council outlining plans to reduce the number of play areas in the borough from 129 to 118.

According to the letter, plans to remove 11 "low value play areas" were considered as part of the council's plans to save £30 million over two years.

Signed by environmental locality officer Adrian Corney, it states that the borough is well served by play areas and those left will offer "better play value".

Play areas facing the axe are situated in Berberis Road, Leegomery; Cornbrook, Stirchley; Boulton Grange, Brandsfarm Way and Dodmoor Grange in Randlay; Doddington and Dudmaston in Hollinswood; Smallwood, Sutton Hill and Gravelly Drive, Newport.

One in Beckbury Drive, Stirchley, and another in Wrekin Avenue, Newport, are also at risk but Telford & Wrekin Council says it is in talks with other authorities over the future of both sites.

Residents in Beckbury Drive have drawn up a petition against the plans.

Dave Welch, who lives in Beckbury Drive, is among those calling for the play area to be taken over by Stirchley and Brookside Parish Council.

The 58-year-old grandfather-of-one said: "That play park is in good working order. There are two swings and a slide.

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"It is well used and is a safe environment for children to go.

"It is ludicrous that they want to do this.

"The council is trying to promote the wellbeing and health of children, but at the same time they want to remove these amenities.

"We want the park transferred over to the parish council but the residents are offering to maintain the park and cut the grass."

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Gillian Bailey, clerk of Stirchley and Brookside Parish Council, said residents are being invited to a meeting later this month to raise the issue with councillors.

The meeting will be held at The Sambrook Centre, Grange Avenue, Stirchley, on October 24 at 6pm.

Councillor John Minor, Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet member for leisure, green space and parks, said "tough decisions" had to be made due to cuts in government funding to the council.

He said: “Reducing the number of play areas we maintain was put forward as one of a number of budget saving ideas in 2015, saving the council £20k annually.

“At the time of the consultation, there were no adverse objections from the community, parish and town councils or local councillors.

"This option was therefore included as part of the 2016 budget for implementation during 2017/18.

“The 11 play areas that were originally identified for removal were ones that had limited play equipment, play equipment that was coming to the end of its useful life or were having issues with nuisance and anti-social behaviour. In each instance there were other play areas nearby.

“Although this could reduce from 129 to 118, the borough would remain well served by local play areas.

“Parish and town councils and local councillors have been kept informed of what’s happening and we have also sent letters to local residents who live by the areas, explaining what is happening and listing the alternative play areas nearby. The council has welcomed this feedback and will aim to work with the residents and parish council to find a solution.”

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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