Still probably town’s best

I feel that I must respond to the somewhat derogatory, if not insulting, comments made regarding Spittal play park during the recent meeting of Berwick Town Council’s Local Services Committee (Berwick Advertiser, March 21).

By The Newsroom
Friday, 29 March, 2019, 08:00

I speak in the capacity of one of the ‘geniuses’ who was involved in supplying the play equipment.

A little background information is required, dating back to 2001, when the heavily corroded metal play equipment was finally condemned.

The borough’s plan was to remove everything and grass over the site, the perceived wisdom being that no one visited Spittal so it wouldn’t matter.

Spittal Improvement Trust stepped in and over two years of hard work it managed to apply for various community grants, including the national Doorstep Green award. I cannot remember the total raised without digging out dusty paperwork, but it was many hundreds of thousands of pounds, aided by very small borough and rather larger county grants.

The trust also held many fund-raising events and public consultations, involving countless hours of voluntary work.

The timber play park equipment was very thoroughly researched with experts, who all recommended wood as the most durable material, given the location. This was obviously with the proviso that it was properly maintained.

The picnic tables were chosen after many hours of volunteer research, enabling easy access for all, instead of the restrictive timber bench sets. The tables have never been revarnished, nor the metal parts repainted.

As an aside, the remaining original metal swing set was replaced only a couple of years ago by a timber set, chosen by Berwick Town Council.

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The play park finally opened in 2005 so it has survived with very minimal care for 14 years and has been an unqualified success. When it was opened, it was, and probably still is, the best play park in a town that is very slow to implement such amenities.

There were no defects at the time of commission or installation. It was supplied and fitted by a nationally renowned and respected company, with a thorough inspection upon completion.

The splash park cabinet should have been replaced within a year of construction by the installers. That matter was left in the hands of the town and county councils, which failed to agree on how to proceed. The splash park itself must be the most popular free amenity in the whole of Berwick.

I am aware that Mr Davies was not in post 14 years ago so may be forgiven his ‘amateur view’, but I am rather fearful that we may be repeating history and the advice will be to demolish these extremely popular amenities and grass over the site.

After all, hardly anybody visits Spittal.

Gillian Hunter