Cash prom­ise for play area as row con­tin­ues

Midweek Visiter - - News -

KEW res­i­dents bat­tling to save a lo­cal park have re­ceived a huge boost af­ter be­ing told it will re­open and re­ceive fi­nan­cial back­ing from Sefton Coun­cil.

The coun­cil had an­nounced it would close the play area out­side Kew Woods Pri­mary School, in Ov­ing­ton Drive, but par­ents quickly launched a cam­paign group to over­turn the de­ci­sion.

The park had been closed for safety rea­sons and there were fears for its fu­ture af­ter es­ti­mates of £50,000 to re­place its 30-year-old equip­ment.

The group now says it has re­ceived “in­cred­i­bly pos­i­tive news” af­ter meet­ing Cllr Ian Mon­cur, the Sefton cabi­net mem­ber with re­spon­si­bil­ity for the park and re­vealed it has re­ceived a guar­an­tee of fund­ing from the coun­cil.

It came af­ter a meet­ing at the site be­tween the Kew Woods Play­ground group and Cllr Mon­cur, which was de­scribed as “a huge leap for­ward” by the cam­paign­ers.

Diane Thomas, one of group’s three or­gan­is­ers, said: “It is a mas­sive re­lief to know that Sefton Coun­cil are unequiv­o­cally back­ing us on this and we are re­ally ea­ger to move this for­ward.

“We’ve saved the park but that’s not quite the end of it. If the ward coun­cil­lors also re­lease the money we’ve called for we can re­place all the equip­ment, not just some of it.”

Af­ter cam­paign­ers asked for as­sis­tance Liz Sav­age, Labour’s 2017 Par­lia­men­tary Can­di­date in the town, and South­port Labour in­ter­vened and the coun­cil said it could con­trib­ute up to £30,000 to­wards the re­fur­bish­ment if the Kew Ward coun­cil­lors would meet the rest from ward funds.

Ward funds are coun­cil monies that coun­cil­lors from each ward have spe­cific con­trol over and ac­counts pre­sented at South­port Area Com­mit­tee last month showed Kew Ward had more than £20,000 in its re­serves.

De­spite re­peated re­quests for help from the cam­paign­ers, Kew Ward’s Lib­eral Demo­crat coun­cil­lors, Fred Weavers, David Pullin and Mike Booth, have so far re­fused to say how much they will re­lease or when, say­ing that no firm of­fer had been made by the coun­cil.

They have re­peat­edly said that they can­not com­mit to spend­ing a cer­tain amount un­til they know ex­actly what is needed. They have also promised that the park will get new equip­ment, but ar­gued that it would be wise to seek ex­ter­nal fund­ing rather than sim­ply use coun­cil funds.

Speak­ing at the park, how­ever, Cllr Mon­cur made it clear that the coun­cil would def­i­nitely be con­tribut­ing and said it was now a mat­ter for the ward coun­cil­lors to de­cide what they will con­trib­ute.

He said: “It will re­open, it is just a mat­ter of the fa­cil­i­ties it then has.

“The ward coun­cil­lors can help their res­i­dents or not, de­pend­ing on how much they con­trib­ute.

“If they do not, we’ll still hon­our our com­mit­ment and con­trib­ute £30,000 but sadly the equip­ment can’t be re­placed like-for­like then.”

Tracy Burke, one of the other cam­paign­ers, told the Visiter: “The de­lays have caused in­creased anx­i­ety.

“We were re­ally wor­ried that with­out the ward funds be­ing re­leased Sefton couldn’t help so to know we have the £30,000 no mat­ter what is a huge re­lief. They have come good, it’s just a shame our own ward coun­cil­lors won’t do the same.”

The is­sue was raised at last month’s South­port Area Com­mit­tee meet­ing, with tem­pers raised and the at­mos­phere be­com­ing in­creas­ingly hos­tile.

Two of the cam­paign­ers who at­tended on the night have is­sued an of­fi­cial com­plaint over their treat­ment by coun­cil­lors on the night and the coun­cil is also said to be in­ves­ti­gat­ing af­ter a coun­cil­lor was banned from the group’s Face­book page in the days af­ter the meet­ing.

Nat Glen­non, an­other of the group’s lead­ers, said: “The way we were treated was not ac­cept­able and nei­ther is the level of mis­in­for­ma­tion and de­lay com­ing from our ward coun­cil­lors.

“We have a sim­ple mes­sage to them: we have waited long enough, say how much you will con­trib­ute, say when it will be and say it now.’’

She added: “The chil­dren want their play­ground back and you are the only thing hold­ing us back.”

Sefton Coun­cil has closed the play­ground out­side Kew Woods Pri­mary School

An ex­am­ple of a pet-friendly oxy­gen mask in use

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