Nine-year-old’s letter sparks play parks row

Two-year-old Connor Henderson from Spittal was unable to play on the swings all of last summer

Two-year-old Connor Henderson from Spittal was unable to play on the swings all of last summer

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Play park facilities in Berwick have been branded a “disgrace” following a letter in last week’s Advertiser bemoaning the lack of swings at Spittal.

In the letter, nine-year-old Corey Learmonth of South Greenwich Road, Spittal, described how he had come home from school to find that the frame which used to hold swings had been taken down.

“I am really sad,” he wrote. “I have a new sister and I hope they put new ones in for her to play on when she gets a little bit bigger.”

Fortunately for Corey’s little sister, plans are in place to reinstate equipment at Spittal’s play park.

County Councillor Jim Smith, who represents Berwick East, has put some of his small scheme funding towards new swings. The old frame was removed on April 28 in preparation for the installation of a new set of wooden swings which will match the adventure trail apparatus and be more resistant to the sea air.

Mike Greener, chairman of Spittal Improvement Trust, has written to Corey to explain the situation.

“I wrote to Corey on behalf of SIT as we felt he deserved an answer direct and not just back through the paper,” he explained. “I understand that Councillor Jim Smith, who has been at the forefront of getting the new swings, has also written to Corey. It seems that this nine-year-old boy has managed to raise the awareness of this and he should be commended for writing in to your paper.”

So it’s good news for Spittal. But the letter has prompted residents in other parts of the town to voice concerns about a lack of equipment elsewhere.

In a poll on the Forgotten Berwick facebook page, 98 per cent of over 150 respondents felt that play park facilities in the town were a disgrace. 1.2 percent felt the provision was “excellent”, while nobody answered that the parks were “adequate”.

Commenting beneath the poll, Gary Morton wrote: “I get feedback from tourists every day and it is sad to say the overwhelming majority say ‘what a shame, this place has so much to offer but there’s nothing here’.”

Marianne Jerdan added: “There isn’t a decent play park for local kids or holiday makers in Berwick.”

Recognising the need for new equipment in the town, Berwick Town Council said in December that it would take over responsibility for the majority of Berwick’s play parks, as the county council has no legal obligation to provide play areas.

In January the town council confirmed plans to carry out a £100,000 revamp of the facilities at Flagstaff Park and the Bonarsteads, and it is currently reviewing what needs to be done elsewhere. Commenting on the poll, town councillor Alan Turnbull said: “Unfortunately, it just all takes time, but it is underway.”

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