Shropshire Star

Money pledged for play park improvements

Play areas in an area of a town will receive improvements worth £30,000, with £20,000 more promised by the parish council – while the cabinet member responsible has said a parks strategy could bring more.

Play area north of Pageant Drive, Aqueduct, Telford.

Telford & Wrekin Councillor Carolyn Healy said £3 million of borough-wide park and open space investment would also include biodiversity enhancements and access improvements at Dawley Hamlets Local Nature Reserve (DHLNR).

She was responding to a public question tabled by Kate Barnes, a parish councillor, assistant headteacher and Conservative by-election candidate.

She said Dawley Hamlets’ parks had received less funding than those in Great Dawley and were in a worse condition as a result.

Mrs Barnes is one of three candidates standing to represent Dawley and Aqueduct.

Voters will go to the polls to choose between her, Liberal Democrat Cathy Salter and Labour’s Bob Wennington, on Thursday, December 16.

Mrs Barnes’s question, posed at a full meeting of Telford and Wrekin Council, read: “In a mailshot from the council on September 13, £2 million was pledged to parks. On behalf of the residents of Aqueduct Ward, can we ask how this funding will be allocated across the borough for play-parks?”

She was referring to a letter, signed by council leader Shaun Davies, that described pledges worth more than £16 million to “make the borough cleaner, greener, safer and more enjoyable”. These included “£2 million to enhance and protect our precious green and open spaces” and “£1 million into our wonderful parks”.

Mrs Barnes also asked Cllr Healy to ensure Dawley Hamlets’ play parks were helped to “reach the standard of others across the borough”.

Cllr Healy, whose portfolio includes green spaces, said: “With the £2m investment, we will be working with local communities, friends’ groups, town and parish councils, ward members and other interested parties to enhance our existing open spaces.

“The £1m Pride in our Parks fund is targeted at increasing the number of ‘Green Flag’ accredited sites so we can ensure our residents have access to the best quality open spaces.”

These would be augmented with funding from other sources, she added.

“For Dawley and Aqueduct and the parish of Dawley Hamlets that means investments in DHLNR, things like biodiversity enhancements and access improvements, as championed by the Friends group, in particular the chair, Bob Wennington,” she said.

“We’ll also be delivering on a management plan for Dawley Park to ensure this park maintains its Green Flag status.

“We are in the process of developing a new play strategy for the borough. We have over 120 play areas across the borough so that strategy will help us target that investment.”

Before that, she added, the council would invest £30,000 in the area, with new equipment at the Pageant Drive and Spring Village pay areas.

In May, Dawley Hamlets Parish Council resolved to allocated £20,000 from its reserves to fund playground improvements. Minutes of that meeting say members expected match funding from the borough council and developer contributions.

“With this to go over two parks and an average roundabout costing £10,000, never mind other works such as the resurfacing, this won’t go far,” Mrs Barnes said.

Mr Wennington said the £3 million investment was “very welcome and necessary to maintain and enhance the many green sites in Telford” and the £30,000 announcement was “a good starting figure to help maintain and enhance parks within the parish”.

He said he was “privileged” to chair the Friends of DHLNR group, and it “will be working hard with Telford and Wrekin Council to use some of this money to enhance DHLNR.”

“I would like to see, in the not too distant future, DHLNR applying for Green Flag Status,” he added.

“There are several play parks within Dawley Hamlets Parish and in Dawley, they all need upgrading, I will be fighting for our share of the £1 million Pride in Our Parks money for these and for funds to help Dawley Park keep its Green Flag Status.”

He added that the £30,000 announcement was “a good starting figure to help maintain and enhance the play parks within the DHPC boundary”.

Mrs Salter said: “I am pleased that investment is being put into play areas. They are a vital resource for early years children. It’s important that Aqueduct gets its fair share of the funding.”

One seat in the three-member Dawley and Aqueduct ward is vacant following the resignation of Labour’s Concepta Cassar.

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