Park users fundraising to buy new play equipment after North Devon Council removes what is there.

ILFRACOMBE parents are fuming after much-needed play equipment was removed from the town’s parks by the district council.

They say the decision by North Devon Council to remove vital play equipment from most playgrounds in Ilfracombe has caused wide-spread upset amongst users.

It is understood the council plans to remove all equipment from Brimlands and down-grading Greenways playground so only the swings remain.

At Bicclescombe Park, two pieces of long-standing equipment suitable for younger children have already been removed and the area grassed over.

A meeting of the Bicclescombe Playground Improvement Group saw parents determined to re-double their fundraising efforts and buy the play equipment themselves.

“Parents set up a fundraising group four years ago after being told by the district council they had no money to spend in Ilfracombe on play equipment for the foreseeable future,” said Terry Elliot on behalf of the group.

“Our aim was to enhance the playground by adding new equipment. We always worried that district would see our efforts as a way of avoiding spending money and unfortunately our suspicions seemed to have been confirmed?

“As fast as we raise money to add a piece of equipment, the council take a piece away.”

She said there had been no consultation over the withdrawal of play equipment, with parents first hearing about it through rumour.

“I have contacted the town council but they just say it’s nothing to do with them,” added Terry.

“I know One Ilfracombe is supposed to be interested in promoting healthy lifestyles. Playgrounds are vital to the healthy development of our children so perhaps we can call on them to become involved.

“Park users are determined not to let this knock back their efforts to make Bicclescombe a fantastic park for children of all ages to enjoy.”

But John Rowe, assistant parks and amenities manager at North Devon Council, said: “Unfortunately, we have had to remove two pieces of play equipment from Bicclescombe Park. This is because they have reached the end of their life span and it is not feasible for us to continue to repair them. We are looking to buy a replacement piece of equipment in liaison with the local community group.

“With regard to Brimlands, we have been monitoring the play area for some time and unfortunately the equipment is under-used. In consultation with local councillors, it has been agreed the equipment will be removed, with some of it being installed in Princess Avenue, where demand for play equipment is much higher.”

The volunteers who run the Mill tearooms at Bicclescombe are appealing to Ilfracombe businesses and residents to support them in raising money for new equipment. Anyone who would like to help can call in at the tearooms daily between 12noon-5pm, or visit the Bicclescombe Park Facebook page.