Play parks receive the green light

Berwick Town Council has agreed to spend nearly £65,000 on the much-needed refurbishment of two play parks.

Thursday, 10th November 2016, 8:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 2:55 pm
Councillors Karin Graham and Paul Hodgson at Grove Garden South playground (Prior Park).

Councillors gave the green light to the revamp of the play areas at Grove Gardens South and Osbourne Road, both in Tweedmouth, at a full council meeting on Monday night.

It is another indication that the council is committed to improving play parks, following the recent start of work on the Flagstaff play park near the Rose Gardens.

Cllr Karin Graham said: “I am delighted the majority of Berwick Town Council saw sense and voted to go ahead with the long overdue park in my ward at Grove Gardens in Prior Park.

“It has been well worth all the work and consultation to get this project on line now. The children within these wards and the greater community will benefit tremendously from these parks.

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“It is the duty of a town council to provide leisure and community facilities for its town. We worked hard to obtain the freehold of these parks and it would be ludicrous not to go ahead and upgrade them.”

The projects were approved despite concerns raised by Cllr Georgina Hill about the tendering process.

She said: “The council agreed in August to go out to tender for these play parks but we did not agree any specification of what we wanted or any tender panel and what has happened is that four councillors have appointed themselves to a tender panel and drawn up the specification. As such there can be no integrity in the process. We’re talking about a significant sum of public money here. I’ve no idea if due diligence has been done.

“What has happened has created public suspincion and they have acted in a way that could lead to the suggestion that back-handers have been involved.”

Cllr Graham replied that it was not a self-appointed tender panel and that local residents had an input into the specification for the parks.

“There has been no dishonesty,” she insisted.

The Grove Gardens South scheme has been aided by a £12,000 grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative.

Cllr Paul Hodgson said: “I actually applied for that grant funding. A business case was put forward which went into the specification that was required by the grant funding people and that was how the award was made and how we won £12,000.”

Cllr Joe Lang added: “It’s not simple to compare tenders for playgrounds. We are fortunate that we have people who put enough time and effort into these projects to make well-informed decisions. I respect the judgment of those who have been involved.”

The Grove Gardens South scheme is costing £30,000 and will provide play equipment for the over 10 age group, including a windsurf simulator and a climbing pole. Additionally, the supplier will repair and refurbish the retained equipment.

The Osbourne Road scheme is costing just under £35,000 and will include swings, springers, seesaw, roundabout, wide slide and climbing frame. The current tarmac will also be replaced with a safety surface.