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Council climb down on Ilfracombe play parks?

PUBLISHED: 19:22 20 June 2014 | UPDATED: 19:22 20 June 2014

Ila Scott, aged seven, is upset at the removal of play equipment from her local park at Brimlands in Ilfracombe.

Ila Scott, aged seven, is upset at the removal of play equipment from her local park at Brimlands in Ilfracombe.

Archant

Parents’ fury at removal of play park equipment in Ilfracombe could have prompted a rethink from North Devon Council.

A huge public backlash could have prompted North Devon Council to climb down from plans to remove play equipment from Ilfracombe’s parks.

The past few days has seen an outcry from parents in the town after the council removed equipment from Greenways and Brimlands play areas, saying it was no longer fit for purpose.

It followed an earlier removal of some from Bicclescombe Park and disgruntled residents were quick to take to social media this week, setting up a Facebook group called Save Our Play Areas which already has around 840 members.

They have organised a public meeting for this Sunday (June 22) at Bicclescombe Mill tea rooms at 5pm, with several councillors and officers expected to attend.

In May the North Devon Gazette reported how angry Bicclescombe parents were seeking ways to replace equipment after the council removed it, and on June 4 we told of NDC’s plans for the other areas.

In a statement today (Friday) Council Leader Brian Greenslade said they were looking at options as to how some equipment could be reinstalled at Greenways and Brimlands.

He said the council was also in discussions with a third party about potentially funding some new equipment.

He said NDC owned 20 play areas and added: “The Parks Team has a budget of just over £24,000 per annum to cover these costs, although there is no specific budget available for the replacement of play equipment.

“So, when the equipment comes to the end of its shelf life, some of which is now 40 years old, we sometimes have to remove it.”

The issue was raised at a One Ilfracombe board meeting on Tuesday and the directors have written to NDC chief executive Mike Mansell expressing their concern and asking why the equipment was removed and what consultation there had been.

It said

Ila Scott, aged seven, sent a letter to the Gazette, saying she was angry because where she lived now had no parks, with the closest 30 minutes away.

‘My friends and me are very sad’, she wrote.

‘We want to stay healthy and have fun, please bring our parks back’.

Ila’s mum Allie told us: “Everyone is really angry, it was done without any proper consultation.

“It’s really not planning for the future and kids being able to play outdoors. They have taken the sense of community away too. It needs to be recognised that Ilfracombe needs open space and we are as entitled to them as Barnstaple.”

An email from, Ilfracombe District Councillor Mike Edmunds published on the Facebook group said: ‘The council plan with the help of Round Table and other groups to replace the equipment and as well at Greenways put in some junior goal post so there is a kick about area for older children.

‘The council also want to improve the play areas at Bicclescombe Park and Princess Avenue when they have the money. They are putting together a bid to Fullabrook and are looking to see if there is any Tap Money’.

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