Hun­dreds sign pe­ti­tion to re­open play­ground

30-year-old play equip­ment re­moved af­ter child in­jured

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HUN­DREDS of peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion call­ing for a play­ground which had to be closed when a child was in­jured to be re-opened.

Smithy Green play­ground in Formby, which housed equip­ment that was up to 30 years old, had to be shut and all the equip­ment re­moved as an emer­gency mea­sure af­ter a child was in­jured.

Now Sefton Cen­tral MP Bill Ester­son and lo­cal Formby coun­cil­lor Catie Page are back­ing calls for the fa­cil­ity to be re­placed.

Cllr Page said that sav­age cuts to the coun­cil bud­get meant that fund­ing for re­place­ment play items was tight but that she hoped the money could be found.

She said: “We wish the child a very quick re­cov­ery from their in­juries.

“Sefton Coun­cil made the right de­ci­sion to close the play­ground im­me­di­ately but it has, of course ,re­sulted in a loss of fa­cil­i­ties for the area which ideally we want to see re­placed. Res­i­dents have un­der­stand­ably started a pe­ti­tion to ask for the play­ground to be re­placed and ideally, that is what I would like to see hap­pen too.”

Cllr Page and the Cab­i­net mem­ber in charge of parks, Labour coun­cil­lor Ian Mon­cur, have asked for op­tions to be pre­sented re­gard­ing the fu­ture of the play­ground.

Sefton Cen­tral Labour MP Bill Ester­son said said: “I was very sorry to hear about the ac­ci­dent and I hope the child who was hurt makes a speedy re­cov­ery.

“The re­al­ity is that cut­ting spend­ing to the bone means that safety can be put at risk and sadly what has hap­pened at Smithy Green is an ex­am­ple of what can hap­pen when short cuts are taken.

“Af­ter seven years of govern­ment cuts this is the re­sult – our play­grounds fall­ing to pieces and no money to re­place them.”

Cllr Page said: “We are look­ing at all the op­tions at the mo­ment and have asked for coun­cil of­fi­cers to present th­ese in the coming weeks.

“If there is any money we could use from ward bud­gets or even grants then we would look to do so.”

Sefton Coun­cil, af­ter £240m of cuts in the last seven years, has a bud­get of just £54,000 a year for main­tain­ing play­ground equip­ment.

Cllr Page said: “We would love to put an­other play­ground in but af­ter sav­age cuts to the coun­cil bud­get since 2010 it’s un­likely the coun­cil will be able to fund this di­rectly.

“We will have to look to grants and other bud­gets.

“We would op­pose any other use, for ex­am­ple for hous­ing.

“That would be com­pletely un­ac­cept­able and is ab­so­lutely not one of the op­tions that will be con­sid­ered.”

A spokesman for Sefton Coun­cil said: “The play­ground at Smithy Green, Formby is around 30 years old and while we have tried to sus­tain it with reg­u­lar in­spec­tion and main­te­nance, the site has re­cently seen rapid de­te­ri­o­ra­tion.

“As a re­sult, we have de­cided to close the fa­cil­ity and de­com­mis­sion the old equip­ment which was done with Cab­i­net Mem­ber ap­proval with ward coun­cil­lors and Formby Par­ish Coun­cil also no­ti­fied.

“While this is dis­ap­point­ing, the near­est al­ter­na­tive play­ground site to Smithy Green is at Alt Road which is just half a mile away. This site has re­ceived re­cent in­vest­ment and, along with nearby Duke Street Park, which also boasts a sub­stan­tial play­ground, pro­vi­sion is still avail­able for fam­i­lies to en­joy.”

To sign the pe­ti­tion, visit: www. change.org/p/sefton-coun­cil-save­smithy-green-play­ground

MP Bill Ester­son

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