Call for action on 'unsafe' play area
5:34pm Wednesday 26th September 2012 in Latest News
Buy this photo » Coun Cindy Matthews at the former play area
A CALL has been made for urgent action at a former play area where a seven-year-old girl was injured last month.
Ward councillor Cindy Matthews says Swindon Council must make the area safe.
The play area, between Cottington Close and Crawford Close in Freshbrook, was decommissioned more than 10 years ago, leaving a 5ft boundary wall, with several cracked smaller walls inside and a concrete mound which once supported a slide.
Parents say they have long warned the council the area is an accident waiting to happen because children still play on the old walls – and claim they have long called for it to be either grassed over or replaced with a new play area.
Last month, mum Gemma Timur, 27, threatened to sue Swindon Council after her daughter Ayse slipped and fell from a boundary wall she was sitting on, falling against the wall and suffering a broken right arm and a cut forehead.
Coun Matthews (Lab, Lydiard and Freshbrook) said: “I would like to see the old walls removed and made safer for the children.
“When I checked around there recently, one of the broken walls was leaning and several of them are crumbling. You only need something like that to fall down on a toddler and you could have a major accident.”
Coun Matthews said responsibility for the area had been transferred from the housing to property departments, but officers in property said they did not have the money to remove the walls, although they promised monthly inspections to knock away the dangerous bricks.
“I’m pressing the council officers to see who’s going to deal with it,” she said.
“I’m told it’s a property matter, but property are saying it’s not down to them and they haven’t got the money to do it. They’re saying they don’t even have the money to make it safe.
“All they’re offering to to do a monthly check and knock off any loose bricks, which I don’t think is a way to run anything.”
Coun Matthews said she was considering producing a video, highlighting the danger of the former play area, to post on the Labour group’s website.
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “The former play area at Cottington Close was closed many years ago. It’s not signed as a play area or advertised as one, and the council is looking at future uses for the site.
“There is another play area very near to Cottington Close, at Bloomsbury Close, which local children can use quite safely and was refurbished recently with new equipment at a cost of £50,000.”
Heidi Male, 37, a mother-of-four, who lives next to Gemma, agreed that a monthly inspection was not good enough.
“It’s not safe for little kids,” she said.
“You try and keep them away but you cannot put up signs saying ‘keep out’ because they don’t listen, kids are kids. The council should make it safe by taking down the mounds and brickwork.”
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