Fight on to save village play area

NOT FOR LONG: Child minder Kathryn Cocks with Noah Hartley and Harry Black in Churchtown play area which is to be dismantled
NOT FOR LONG: Child minder Kathryn Cocks with Noah Hartley and Harry Black in Churchtown play area which is to be dismantled

disappointed villagers are planning a campaign to replace a children’s playground after Wyre Council pulled the plug on its funding.

The play area, with swings and a slide and other small pieces of equipment, at Kirkland and Catterall Memorial Hall is to be dismantled because it is considered unsafe and the council says it has no cash to fund a replacement.

The nearest other playgrounds which youngsters from Churchtown can use are at Catterall, across the busy A6, and Bilsborrow.

Chairman of the hall trustees Betty Singleton said fellow trustees were “very disappointed” with Wyre Council’s decision.

She said parents were worried children would now have to be taken across the busy A6 in order to use the Catterall facilities, which are newer than those at Churchtown.

“The reason Catterall got a play ground was because it was considered unsafe for children from Catterall to cross to the Kirkland and Catterall Memorial Hall play area,” she said.

“So why should it be any different if children from this side have to cross to Catterall?

“The village needs a play area. This one is used every day.

“We are going to get together and try to raise the funds.

“Wyre Council wrote to the trustees and to Kirkland Parish Council, urging us to source and obtain grants to replace the facilities, which it says will soon become unsafe. We will do what we can, because we feel it is important to the local community.

“This will take time, dedication and energy, so we are asking for people’s support.”

The well-used hall has a range of groups whose children also use the play area.

On Tuesdays it hosts a play session for toddlers and on other days the children of people attending various social events also make use of the play area.

Childminder Teresa Chatman, who was at the session yesterday, said: “The play area is well used. At first we thought they were going to replace it, and we had hoped for more facilities, especially for the tinier children, but now we know that’s not the case.”

Session organiser Sue Roome added: “I have lived in the village since 1978 and this area has always been popular with local children. I hope something can be done.”

Kirkland Parish Council was due to discuss the issue last night.

Its vice-chairman, Catherine Richmond, said: “It is on the agenda and we will see what can be done.

“The play area will be missed by local children and by the children of those groups which use the hall.”

Wyre Council’s communications officer Stephanie Collinson said: “The council’s budget for playgrounds has been reduced from £105,000 to £50,000 in recent years due to severe cuts in government funding.

“This has inevitably had an impact on the number of play areas that we can sustain in our refurbishment programme. As a result, discussions have been held with the Memorial Hall Trustees and the parish council over a number of years about council funding for the play area coming to an end.

“The play equipment has now reached the end of its natural life and needs to be removed.

“If the trustees, who are also the landowners, wish to retain the facility, we have offered to assist them in applying for grant funding to replace the equipment and have pledged to continue providing inspections of the site.

“The council provides another play area in Catterall, on the parish playing fields, which has been subject to investment in recent years, along with nearby sites in Bilsborrow and Garstang”.