Concerns over a number of play areas in Great Yarmouth

Yarmouth Play equipment. Beaconsfield road playgroundPHOTO: Nick Butcher

Yarmouth Play equipment. Beaconsfield road playgroundPHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Concerns have been raised over children’s safety at a number of play areas in Great Yarmouth.

Now one of the councillors has voiced his frustrations over the state of the play at Beaconsfield recreation ground, Ferrier Road, and The Lea - all in his ward.

It comes after inspection reports for the site show a number of potential hazards.

These include wear and tear of the equipment, trip hazards, and equipment not meeting requirements set by the Play Inspection Company which carried out the reports.

Northgate and central ward Cllr Lee Sutton said: “These are low risk findings such as loose chains on equipment and potential trip hazards, but no matter how big the risk is, these are issues which need to be looked into.

“I understand children can get hurt going on play areas but that should not be down to the standard of equipment or play area being unsafe for them to use.

His concerns are echoed by parents who take their children to the sites.

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Ally Browning, 33, who has a five year old daughter Michelle and regularly goes to the Beaconsfield play area, said: “It is worrying to hear about these problems.

“They are not issues which are instantly noticeable to a parent unless you get really close to the problems so any incident might be quite hard to prevent. Not many children do get hurt here but there is the risk.”

At the borough council’s budget meeting earlier in the year, Labour’s Cllr Sutton proposed an amendment of a further £20,000 of unsupported borrowing be added to a proposed and phased £180,000 to improve the Beaconsfield play area. The additional £180,000 would have come through external grants.

However, councillors voted 15 to 12 against the proposal.

Cllr Sutton said: “It was not good to see councillors vote against the amendment and honestly it was not something I expected.

“For the Beaconsfield site I stand by what I said as I think the state of the play area is appalling and practically needs to be taken down and re-done.”

The borough council, through its joint venture with GYB Services Ltd, maintains over 1,500 pieces of play equipment and ancillary items spread over 98 sites. Additional day-to-day inspections are also undertaken by the borough council’s environmental rangers.

There are also quarterly engineering inspections and annual independent inspections.

The maintenance is prioritised on the basis of needs rather than on a rigid allocation by ward. The annual budget figure for these activities is £57,700.

The council also has a rolling three year programme of playground refurbishment based on the greatest need for refurbishment.

A week after the budget meeting, Cllr Sutton visited the Beaconsfield site with the borough’s cabinet member for environment, and People of North Yarmouth Group members Paula Waters-Bunn and John and Jane Langley.

Since the visit a spinning pole has been replaced and a seesaw removed. Cllr Sutton is hoping to hold a meeting with Robert Read, the director for housing and neighbourhoods at the borough council, and Peter Stockwell of Great Yarmouth Borough Services.

He said: “The Ferrier Road site is a good play area that just needs to be properly maintained. While The Lea is untidy for its size but it is reasonable and far from the worst play area I have seen.

“There was a moderate risk on the report for The Lea which was a climbing frame where wire was protruding from the ropes. I have been assured immediate action has been taken on that.

“However these reports were published in December and without my interventions at council, I am not sure whether any improvements would have been made.”

Anyone who spots any problems with a play area should contact Great Yarmouth Borough Services on 01493 742200.