Hundreds sign petition to reopen playground
30-year-old play equipment removed after child injured
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