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Town Hall agrees to appoint officer to research borough's play areas

PUBLISHED: 10:08 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:25 19 September 2019

Cobholm play area. Picture: Joseph Norton

Cobholm play area. Picture: Joseph Norton

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A council will spend £15,000 hiring an officer to research play areas.

View south along Hall Quay in Great Yarmouth towards the town hall.

Picture: James BassView south along Hall Quay in Great Yarmouth towards the town hall. Picture: James Bass

At a meeting in Great Yarmouth's Town Hall on Wednesday (September 18), the borough council's environment committee agreed to appoint the officer on a six-month contract as part of developing a longer-term plan for the future management of playgrounds in the area.

The council currently owns 96 such amenities across the borough, nine of which are located in or adjacent to houses owned by the authority.

It includes a total of 592 individual pieces of equipment for children and young people from nursery age to 14-years-old.

A report prepared for the meeting revealed Town Hall has spent £902,893 on installing new equipment and resurfacing play areas in the last 10 years.

The football cage at Cobholm play area in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Joseph NortonThe football cage at Cobholm play area in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Joseph Norton

Part of the longer-term plan includes recruiting an outdoor play project officer on a six-month contract to research the usage levels of the council's play areas and produce a report with clear recommendations.

Data will be used to develop a plan for play areas, identifying opportunities for their future management in a more planned and strategic approach, the report states.

The officer will also identify opportunities for alternative provision of the service in particular locations.

This will typically include community asset transfer to local groups, such as parish councils, who may be interested in specific assets.

The council currently employs a playground ranger who routinely inspects and maintains play areas.

There is no dedicated revenue budget specifically for playgrounds.

Last year, the total cost for repairs was £14,500, while the anticipated cost for the outdoor play project officer is estimated at £15,790.

The report states the council runs the risk of eventually being unable to maintain all the existing play areas effectively.

Cllr Penny Carpenter, chairman of the environment committee, said: "The council is keen to have a thorough and current picture of all our play areas: the condition of equipment, whether we have the right equipment in the right places to meet the needs of the borough, and, crucially, their current usage levels by the community.

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"As part of this, the committee has agreed to appoint a temporary Outdoor Play Project Officer to undertake the important research into the usage levels and to make recommendations to inform a structured programme to prioritise maintenance."

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