Hopes for return of play park equipment

Swings in disrepair on Berwick Walls

Swings in disrepair on Berwick Walls

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Many of the swings and slides removed from Berwick’s play parks over the last year or so are only in need of minor repairs.

That’s the view of Councillor Phil Elliott, Berwick Town Council’s newly-qualified play parks inspector.

“The biggest problem with all of them is a lack of maintenance,” he told the town council’s environment and regeneration committee.

“I’ve had a look at nine play parks in Berwick since becoming qualified and very often it might just be something like a small bearing that is needed to bring the play equipment back into service.

“But instead of replacing it, the equipment just got removed and put in a depot somewhere. I’ve been making enquiries to find out where it is because I’m sure some of it could be replaced if we get some spare parts.

“A proper inspection and maintenance programme will prevent these problems from happening in the future.”

Until recently, play parks in Berwick had been the responsibility of Northumberland County Council. However, it had no statutory obligation to provide or maintain them so equipment has been removed instead of being repaired or replaced.

But the town council has now agreed to take over responsibility for eight play parks from April. They are at Flagstaff Park, Five Arches, Greenhaven, Grove Gardens South, Osborne Place, Spittal Pavilion, Springdale and Newfields.

It is also planning a major investment in new play equipment at Flagstaff Park and next to the Swan Centre.

Councillor John Robertson said: “In defence of the county council they said they were no longer obligated to maintain play areas. At the time we said we were not prepared to take them on because we wanted them to be fit for purpose. We hoped their attitude would change but it hasn’t and we are now playing catch-up.”

Spittal splash park, Highcliffe, Newfields and Westfield are not being taken on yet for various reasons including their potential costs.

A sub-committee will discuss the detailed arrangements of the play area transfer and the purchase of new play equipment.

Clerk Sue Finch said: “We need to look at each play area individually so we can make a considered decision about the financial implications.”

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