Tale of two play areas - councillors call for action but Fenland District Council want a 'strategic approach' across the area
Two independent councillors are calling for urgent action on play areas at different locations in Fenland.
Daniel Divine, who represents Slade Lode in Chatteris, wants to see improvements to what he calls "one of the most boring play areas I have ever visited".
Coun Divine said he has received a number of complaints from angry residents in the Doddington Road area of the town about the current state of the Willey Terrace play area. As a result of the complaints he visited the site and described his findings as "appalling".
He said: "I must say I was appalled, there’s a swing and a basketball hoop and that’s basically it. With the school holidays this is one place that many children won’t bother to visit, the grass needs badly cutting, you wouldn’t even be able to kick a football there, let alone play basketball!
"There’s litter everywhere which I picked up, a broken pallet and someone has been digging holes in the grass, there’s a Jack's trolley from the local supermarket that has been dumped,e which I reported to the store manager, and he very kindly said they will retrieve it.
"There’s one bench which you cannot sit on as the seating has been removed.
"One resident told me that someone had spread chocolate and ice cream all over the children’s swings so no one can sit on them.
"As a local councillor I am only asking for some imagination, this in one of the most boring play areas I have ever visited, and I think the hard working tax-payer in Chatteris deserves more, it comes to no wonder that children are spending too much time on their game consoles.
"I’m not asking for hundreds of thousands of pounds to be spent, although two seats, some imagination and care would be nice. One last thought, at this time, I wish I had a sit-on mower."
Fellow independent Dave Patrick, who represents Kirkgate in Wisbech, has also called for action at the Jasmine Park in Walsoken.
He was due to meet with varies parties including the portfolio holder for parks and leisure as well as town council clerk Terry Jordan and Fenland Council officers to discuss new play equipment for the park.
However, he claims a meeting originally planned for July and rescheduled for the end of this month has now been cancelled and he said they have been fighting for new play equipment for Walsoken since 2012.
Coun Patrick said: "By all accounts the meeting has been cancelled due to a decision taken by cabinet. I am hoping this is not a political decision in order to deny the children of Kirkgate new play equipment which should have been delivered years ago.
"Kirkgate is in the top five per cent of most deprived wards in Cambridgeshire 17th out of 375 wards in total. The Children of Walsoken deserve better and I will not let this matter rest and intend to take it up with the cabinet member responsible."
Coun Patrick was told of the cancelled meeting in a letter from Phil Hughes the council's head of leisure services, which explains officers are currently preparing a report for cabinet regarding play areas.
He said: "This will allow the council to take a more strategic view of play area replacement and repair works, instead of an ad-hoc approach determined by, primarily, S106 funding.
"Until the report has been discussed, not further play area improvement works are to be undertaken. I expect that we shall have a cabinet decision on our approach by October, unless further information is requested."
The letter adds that S106 already in place for specific towns and villages will remain 'tied' to the original locations by the S106 obligation, so that money will not be open to being transferred to other areas.
"This more strategic approach will ensure that Fenland takes a broader view of our play areas, ensuring that the community is well served with good, well maintained play areas for the foreseeable future," he adds.