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Town council confirms commitment to play parks

Flagstaff Park, where much of the equipment has been removed, is one of eight play areas that Berwick Town Council is prepared to take over.

Flagstaff Park, where much of the equipment has been removed, is one of eight play areas that Berwick Town Council is prepared to take over.

Berwick Town Council has confirmed it is to take over responsibility for eight play parks from Northumberland County Council.

They are at Flagstaff Park, Five Arches, Greenhaven, Grove Gardens South, Osborne Place, Spittal Pavilion, Springdale and Newfields.

The town council will take on the play parks from April. It has budgeted nearly £20,000 to cover the estimated costs of maintenance, inspections and insurance.

Councillor John Robertson said: “The play parks in the town have been an issue for a number of years.

“For some time the town council was unwilling and unable to take on board play parks that were at a certain level of disrepair, but I think it’s about time that we rise to that challenge.

“There is undoubtedly a need for new play equipment in the town, a need that our residents have told us about.”

The need has become more apparent over the past year or so with the county council removing play equipment when it deteriorates or becomes unsafe.

The county council has no statutory obligation to provide play areas and, since local government reorganisation in 2009, has always intended that play parks should be managed by town and parish councils.

Coun John Stephenson said: “We’re in a no win situation because the county council say they have no responsibility for play areas. If we don’t do anything we’ll be left with no play areas.

“Nevertheless it’s important we are aware of the significant costs that are involved in taking them on. It’s going to take a lot of money to bring all the play areas up to the standards that are deemed to be required.”

Spittal splash park, Highcliffe, Newfields and Westfield have been excluded from the list for various reasons including their potential capital and maintenance costs.

The splash park has had numerous technical problems since its installation and, although the freehold is in the process of being transferred to the town council, it will remain in the county council’s hands until those are sorted out.

Last month, the town council announced plans for a major investment in new play equipment at Flagstaff Park and next to the Swan Centre.

 

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