Payment plan to keep play centre open

Release date: Thursday 12th May 11

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The council has unveiled proposals to introduce a modest charge for families using the large adventure playcentre in Battersea Park.

Later in the year a £2.50 admission fee will apply to the centre, which boasts some of the most challenging and hi-tech play equipment found anywhere in London or the south east.

The centre, which is fully staffed at all times to ensure that children can enjoy the wide range of play equipment safely and under proper supervision, also boasts a range of other attractions.

It regularly stages staff supervised street dance and drumming workshops, music and singing tuition, arts and crafts and sports coaching.

It is an almost unique facility in London. At weekends, when the charges will apply, half of the children and families attending come from other parts of the capital.

The centre costs Wandsworth Council tax payers upwards of £200,000 a year to run.  

There are a total of three adventure playgrounds in Wandsworth. The others are in King George's Park in Southfields and in Battersea's York Gardens . There are no plans to introduce entrance fees at these two facilities and they will continue to remain free of charge

It is the size and scale of the one in Battersea Park and the fact that it requires such high numbers of staff on duty to keep children safe that makes it different.

Children's services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "The difficult economic situation we face means we have to consider every aspect of the work we do and the services we provide.

"The adventure playcentre and playground is a very popular but also very expensive facility to run.

"The equipment requires constant maintenance and replacement in order to keep it safe, and because of the playground's rough and tumble nature, it also needs lots of trained staff on duty to ensure that children can use it safely.

"This is especially true at weekends when it is extremely busy and research has shown that half of those attending come from other parts of London.

"While we are maintaining our facilities, other councils are simply closing theirs. Introducing a pilot charging scheme at weekends will allow us to carry on investing in the centre, recoup some of those costs and allow us to continue providing the best value for money we can for our council tax payers.

"At less than half the price of a child's cinema ticket we certainly do not believe the fee is excessive, and given that children can spend all day at the centre enjoying a wide range of supervised activities we think this represents great value for money for parents.

"There is also of course a question of fairness that council tax payers in Wandsworth should not have to shoulder the entire burden of funding a resource that is enjoyed by thousands of families who do not live in the borough and therefore do not at the moment pay a penny towards its upkeep.

"It is also worth remembering that our council tax bills are half the London and UK average. Our Band D bill is £687 compared to a London average of around £1,315 so we make sure we leave people's money in their pockets so they can choose how to spend it."


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Recent comments

What a shameful decision by WBC. In the meantime the Council allow businesses in the borough to continue to operate without paying Non Domestic Rates! Why not chase the money due to the Borough through this route and then these sorts of cuts would not be necessary. Shame on you.
Fiona

17 May 2011

This is outrageous. A good many of the children who use the adventure playground are and have always been from the poorest families, left to roam and amuse themselves. As a free facility, this has kept them out of trouble - there will be many who will be unable to pay and who will be finding other, less socially acceptable, ways of amusing themselves. I am more than happy to pay for them via my council tax, please keep this facility free. It is the mix of children which is so wonderful about it, you will end up, at the weekends, with all the better-off children and few of the most needy. I beg you to have a rethink.
Sue

15 May 2011

This is outrageous. A good many of the children who use the adventure playground are and have always been from the poorest families, left to roam and amuse themselves. As a free facility, this has kept them out of trouble - there will be many who will be unable to pay and who will be finding other, less socially acceptable, ways of amusing themselves. I am more than happy to pay for them via my council tax, please keep this facility free. It is the mix of children which is so wonderful about it, you will end up, at the weekends, with all the better-off children and few of the most needy. I beg you to have a rethink.
Sue

15 May 2011

Will these charges not lead to more people having to go and attend obese clinics in the long run this will cost the taxpayer more money in the long term.
james andrews

15 May 2011

Conceptually probably a very good idea but perhaps penny wise pound foolish when it comes to the PR of this move towards local residents. Of course people should pay for top services. This is not a normal playground but an exceptional one with lost of extras. People pay for going to theme parks don't they? Is propose implementation correct? I don't know but the concept that the user pays is only so right whether it is kids or not shouldn't matter? Nevermind if I had been a councillor I hadn't voted in favour, much easier to let it run down and blame lack of funding? So congrats to Wandsworth council to make brave and sometimes unpopular decisions. Suspect they know that they are not elected by the opponents of "pay as you play" LOL.
Bernard

15 May 2011

I understood the "modest entry charge" referred to was to be a "socially divisive" 2.50 a head. From my perspective a miserable proposition to further tax parents via their children ,especially during the coming half term and summer holidays. Shame on you WBC if you go ahead!
lois matcham

15 May 2011

This is an abysmal tactic to save cash. At 200K to run are you expecting 100,000 kids to spend their pocket money here? Some things should be provided free of charge because the value they offer to the community cannot be measured in monetary terms. This is a shameful exercise in miserliness.
sandra

14 May 2011

This must be the most unnpopular and unsound decision ever made by Wandsworth council.
Adele

13 May 2011

An excellent facility and we need places like this to give kids good places to go. The price is low enough to not be exclusive. As a local tax payer I would be happy to fund 50% of such a facility so if there is any "profit" over the 50% cost I would hope this is invested in the centre.
Peter Kerr

13 May 2011

This is unbelievable! Increase your rates and keep access to your playground free.
Wolfgang Fauser

13 May 2011

Of all the mean minded, pennypinching ideas that WBC have come up with, this takes the cake. WBC need to justify their claim to NEED to save £55 million. I note they have plenty enough money to spend on other parts of the borough.
Jane Eades

13 May 2011

Since when was it applicable for children to be charged for play? Five teens have been killed this year, parks provide an environment 'tailor made' for them. and if there are wardens patrolling then its all the better. More of these areas should be made available, and whatever jobsworth decided this could provide revenue needs to get a job that occupies his brain cells more usefully!
Rosalind Birch

13 May 2011

Great, drop off in use results in a closed facility. Job done. What does Ravi think of the classy idea?
Jacob

13 May 2011

Brilliant! We have the lowest council tax in the country and no services.
peter west

13 May 2011

I am appalled to see that charges are going to be made. I have family who live in council housing close to Battersea Park and this is their 'garden'/play area. Pay for the arts and other parts but not for the adventure trail.
Marilyn Ravenor

13 May 2011

What is the council thinking of? We complain of children slumped in front of the TV, being obese and not taking enough exercise, yet the Council wants to charge for playgrounds. £2.50 m,ay not sound much to someone on a large salary, but what if the child goes there every day during the holidays? What if there are two children in the family, or even three? How does £25 per week sound now? We were not exactly on the breadline, but even we would have blanched at £12.50 p.w. What a nasty little plan.
susan.lofthouse

13 May 2011

As a Wandsworth council tax payer I am appalled and shamed by this decision. We should be proud that a facility provided by our taxes for children in London is so popular. A charge like this is divisive and socially reprehensible. Could it be that Wandsworth Council will only be happy once the entire borough is populated with the comfortably well-off who think £2.50 a visit is small change? The Councillors who approved this should be ashamed of themselves.
Carolyn Dugdale

13 May 2011

A move that is short sighted, petty, unimaginative. vindictive, shameful. Vile and cruel. Perhaps a hard look at your council tax budget is long overdue.
AL HARRINGTON

12 May 2011

Yet WBC can afford to allocate £13,605,000 to a "Potential Primary School" in Putney Area. It's there in the council's minutes for the capital programme for primary school. A public access document. What unbelievable political choices this council is making. Pity the poor chidlren growing up here?
Celia Blair

12 May 2011

Other councils have a residents card which gives discounts on council facilities to residents / sometimes residents and employees of the council. Does such a similar scheme exist and if so could admission not remain free to residents?
Ben

12 May 2011