Concerns over maintenance of new play equipment in Yarmouth

The MUGA in Middlegate, where people have complained about noise, damage to property and verbal abus

The Middlegate games area - which is proposed to be removed and replaced with a shared garden space - Credit: James Weeds

Concerns have been raised by councillors over whether revamped play equipment in Great Yarmouth will be properly maintained following a major regeneration project. 

Some of Great Yarmouth’s most run-down play areas are to be freshened up under plans to regenerate the town’s Middlegate estate, thanks to a government grant of £858,000.

Planned changes include three upgraded play areas at Clarendon Close and Dorset Close, a new physical activity trail along Tolhouse Street, and the removal of a fenced-in games area off King Street, the latter of which had been highlighted by residents as a source of anti-social behaviour.

The former games area will be converted into a new shared garden space, and elsewhere in the estate, fences and narrow alleys between small individual gardens will be removed to create another shared garden for residents.

The designs were welcomed by councillors at a Thursday meeting of the borough council's housing and neighbourhoods committee, but some said they were worried about whether the play equipment would stay in good condition. 

Labour councillor Mike Smith-Clare said: “I love the fact that we’ve got accessible and viable equipment to introduce to that area. 

Mike Smith-Clare, Labour county councillor.

Labour councillor Mike Smith-Clare - Credit: Labour Party

"But if we're looking at a masterplan, the question's got to be: what are we going to do to make sure that equipment stays viable and accessible?"

Mr Smith-Clare said he takes his children to Yarmouth's Beaconsfield Park on the weekends.

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"I'm confronted by broken equipment, I'm confronted by having to explain to my five-year-old what a drawing of the male anatomy is. 

"Fortunately he still thinks it's a rocket.

"And there's litter all over the place - it's an absolute disgrace.

"I think we can have beautiful-looking equipment, but surely... we need an approach to ensure that in three, four years from now, this isn't in the same state as that area in Beaconsfield [Park]."

An officer assured Mr Smith-Clare that the equipment had been "very carefully chosen" on the basis of it being "very robust".

She added that on-site caretakers will mean the council has "eyes and ears" on the estate. 

But Mr Smith-Clare was joined by UKIP councillor Carrie Talbot, who asked: "Are you going to look at using anti-graffiti paint... to avoid some of the, um, 'rocket ships' that children spend time looking at?"

The officer said anti-graffiti paint was not currently proposed, but that she and her colleagues would be "mindful" of the points raised.