Families fight for playground

FAMILIES in Northam are calling on the district council to restore a favourite children’s playground, which they say is falling into disrepair.

Misuse by older youngsters is partly to blame, they say. But they also point to the district council not replacing broken equipment which has been removed from the Lords Meadow playground alongside the Kimberley Park estate.

Little Jodie Rowcliffe, seven, and her friends were so upset that she wrote to the Gazette.

She said teenagers had used one slide to ride down on their bicycles. Now it had been taken away and not replaced.

Jodie’s mum Paula Hancock said her daughter and other children were concerned to see the equipment removed. A baby slide, swings, a ‘twister’ ride and a rope ladder had also been taken away and a fence and a gate had also gone, allowing dogs to foul the playground. “There used to be a sign saying no bikes and no dogs – but that has gone, too!” she said. “We would like to see the equipment re-instated and also have some CCTV cameras installed as they have in Bideford park.”

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Mum Amanda Powe, said there was often glass in the playground and she had picked up dozens of beer bottles.

“There is glass under the climbing frame and glass by the benches,” she said. “It is also the general condition of the park. Equipment is rusty and splintered. It needs some TLC. If the park was not used a lot you could understand. But this is the only real park between here and Westward Ho! or Bideford and it is surrounded by houses and young families.”

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Another young mum, Richenda Bullock, said: ”The park is massively used by lots of families and by youngsters walking to and from school. But they take things away and do not replace them.”

Jenny Wallace, Strategic Director of Resources at Torridge District Council, said: “The council has a rolling programme of renewal of existing play areas and the provision of new play areas, but this is very much based on available funds and grants to allow schemes to happen, often with the involvement of housing developers.

“Typically new play areas are delivered on new housing schemes in the district and adopted by the council or the developer provides funds for off-site schemes on council land. The council in the last 12 months has completed the installation of new equipment at Victoria Park, Geneva Court and Pollyfield in Bideford and are planning some new equipment on Westward Ho! seafront. This is in addition to schemes that have been built on new housing estates.

“We are aware that the equipment is nearing ‘end of life’ at Lords Meadow, Northam, and the main aim has been to ensure that it is kept in a safe condition and available for use by local children as far as we can. The council will be looking to provide new equipment at the site, subject to funding being available. We will be discussing this with Northam Town Council and other interested parties in due course.”

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