Sunday, 15 September 2013

Part 2 - Park Lane and Churchfields public meeting - truths, lies and distortions

In my last blog entry I explained the legal position behind the Park Lane play area - but this isn't just a legal question.  Is FTC seeking to do the right thing in selling a closed play area and re-investing the money in the other FTC play areas?

Now leave aside any particular scheme - just ask yourself the question is it right that FTC seeks to invest in its play areas?

To my mind the answer to this question is an overwhelming - 'Yes, absolutely right.'

It has been quite depressing over the last decade to watch the various FTC playgrounds decline.  Like many places we've suffered from vandalism, and a rise in the perceptions of health and safety dangers.  This has led to play areas being closed - such as a Park Lane and at Ship Street, and play equipment being removed such as at Top Road and at Top Park.

Now play equipment that is safe, well maintained and conforming to health and safety requirements doesn't come cheap.  Also fashions change over time - play equipment, like architecture dates very rapidly.  If we are to reinvest in our play facilities we need to:

  • raise the money; and
  • consult widely on what can be done - with parents, residents and children.

Leaving aside the CWaC owned and controlled Castle Park and their Ship St/Saltworks farm facility where money has been spent recently we've seen a sad decline in the facilities in Frodsham.

Ask yourself the question - do our youngsters deserve more than grassy fields?
Again I think the answer is 'Yes, absolutely.'

Now getting play areas right is a specialist task - and so FTC has retained Groundworks to help with:

  • design;
  • consultation; and,
  • money raising through grants etc.
I would have thought that 99.9% of the people in Frodsham would support improving the play facilities for our children in principle.   I fully accept that questions of what/where/how etc need to be debated and resolved.  I will cover that in my next blog entry.

One or two questions raised issues at the public meeting related to CWaC's play facility in Castle Park.  There was neither the time, nor was I given the opportunity to respond to the points raised about it - and as I am Chairman of Castle Park Trust I do know the answers so here goes:
  • why isn't the play area fenced - the old one was?
  • and what about dogs (and other animals) that may use the sand as a toilet?
The Castle Park renovation was managed by the old Vale Royal Borough Council.  They involved experts from the Heritage Lottery Fund and consultants - including experts in play.  The play area was deliberately moved to the present location for several reasons - some of which related to restoring the vista from Castle Park House - and others relating to improving the play facilities for the children.

As you could imagine people like me posed the experts questions about things like - whether the play facility should be fenced off or not. The expert advice we received was that we shouldn't be putting our children behind bars.  Besides - the area where the play area now is - is effectively secure in its own setting without the need for barriers.  Parents can supervise their children very effectively in the play area in any event.

I posed the question about dogs potentially using the sand as a toilet many years ago.  Up until yesterday I only had one person contact me about the issue.  

Ask yourself the question have you ever seen dog mess in the sand?  I haven't by the way - although my children are a little too old for that style of play.   Now all dogs in the park should be controlled in any event, and any owner whose dog makes a mess commits a criminal offence if they do not clean it up after them.  The sand used in the playground is not the typical toilet for a dog in any event.  Also the park staff inspect the play area daily in any event.  If this is an issue it isn't one that is being reported to me or to the park staff.

There was some suggestion that we have a dog problem in Castle Park - again if there is one this isn't being reported if that is the case.  The place where we do get complaints is Salt Works Farm.  CWaC dog wardens do police Frodsham from time to time.  Any complaints - please make sure you report them to CWaC dog wardens by calling 0300 1238123.

The next blog entry will look at the Churchfields play area issues.