Big investment in adventure playgrounds
Published: Thursday 27th September 12
The borough’s three adventure playgrounds are all about to undergo major refurbishment work before reopening in the Spring.
The playgrounds are all being modernised as part of an investment programme this winter of £500,000. New equipment is likely to include rope swings, chain ladders, aerial walkways, tube slides, scramble nets, zip wires and fireman's poles.
The council is fully committed to providing exciting, challenging and modern play facilities for young people. This commitment to invest in the future comes at a time when many other local authorities are closing their adventure playgrounds down.
Each winter the three playgrounds close for maintenance work and at other times offer only restricted opening hours because the dark evenings mean that children cannot attend after school. The playgrounds always fully reopen each year in the Spring and will do so again as normal next Spring.
During the winter months Battersea Park's adventure playground will undergo a £200,000 refurbishment while the one at York Gardens will also benefit from a major facelift and the installation of brand new equipment. The playground at Kimber Road will undergo a £170,000 transformation into a new skateboarding venue, which we think will be enormously popular with local children and teenagers.
When they reopen early next year all three playgrounds will offer local young people a greater variety and choice of new and exciting play facilities, and all three will also be able to remain open for longer than was previously possible.
The changes do mean that staff will no longer be needed to supervise children and young people. Staff had to be on duty because the existing play equipment was not professionally manufactured or produced, and was instead largely DIY in nature, requiring adult supervision.
The staffing changes mean that local taxpayers will save around £386,000 each and every year. The council is having to reduce its spending by £70m as a result of the nation's economic difficulties, and in the current financial situation when frontline services need to be to prioritised, that high level of spending on adventure playgrounds is regrettably no longer sustainable.
Wandsworth manages more than 200 playgrounds and play areas in parks, commons and housing estates. Over the past four years £2.5 million has been spent on maintaining and improving these facilities for young people.
The town hall also provides a grant worth £125,000 a year to a local charity which provides an adventure playground on Wandsworth Common specifically aimed at children with disabilities.
The playgrounds will continue to be hugely popular with the children that use them. Last summer 92 per cent of visitors were aged under 12 with the biggest group of users (54 per cent) aged between five and eight. These children were almost always accompanied by parents or carers.
Children's services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "The council has an excellent track record of providing top quality play facilities for young people in Wandsworth and is committed to this continuing in the future.
"We are investing heavily in improvements to our adventure playgrounds which are open to all young people to enjoy. At the same time, we are improving our support for disadvantaged children and young people who need extra help."