Playground squatters evicted

Published: Wednesday 23rd January 13

Work to install £200,000 worth of exciting new play equipment for young people can now begin following the eviction earlier this morning (Wednesday) of a group of squatters who’d set up an illegal camp inside Battersea Park’s adventure playground.

The six squatters were removed at first light this morning by court appointed bailiffs working under the supervision of a High Court Sheriff, following last Thursday's decision by a judge to grant the council an eviction notice to bring the unlawful occupation to an end.

Now that the playground squatters have gone, the counThis style of new play equipment will now be installed.cil can begin to install the new play equipment. The aim is to have the modernised and refurbished adventure playground open in time for the start of the school Easter holiday.

The £200,000 of new play equipment was mainly chosen by young people in the area. Children at local schools and young visitors to the playground were asked last year what play equipment they preferred and the most popular choices are now being introduced.

These include rope swings, chain ladders, aerial walkways, tube slides, scramble nets, zip wires and fireman's poles.

The presence of the squatters was preventing this work from being carried out. Their occupation has put the work schedule back by nearly two weeks, posing a risk that the playground will not reopen on time. The delays they have caused have also left taxpayers with a £30,000 bill, which includes the costs of the legal action and also for the policing of the occupation.

These unforeseen costs will have to be met from existing budgets within the council's children's services department and could have a knock-on effect on other services to young people in the area.

Children's services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "I am very glad to be seeing the back of these squatters. They have done nothing apart from cause delays to our improvement works and left a £30,000 hole in our playgrounds budget.

"Now that they have gone we can get on with the important job of giving children in Wandsworth their playground back."

The new play equipment will offer young people an exciting and challenging leisure facility and has been designed to be enjoyed by young people of all ages.

Children will soon be able to enjoy play equipment like thisWhen it reopens the playground will also have longer opening hours than was previously possible. Instead of being available for just a few hours each day after school, children will be able to go there at all times Battersea Park is open, seven days a week.

During this morning's eviction it emerged that two other squatters have occupied the Battersea Park One O' Clock centre which is directly adjacent to the adventure playground. The council is now exploring options to ensure their removal from the building. Until they leave the centre cannot be reopened and remains unavailable for use by parents and children in the area, as does the adjoining conventional playground.

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Recent comments

I am horrified to read the 'spin' the council have put on this situation, blaming the 'squatters' as they refer to them for wasting local people's money for the eviction and so called damage. I emailed Cllr Tracey with my concerns about the playground's closure in terms of depriving children and young people of supervised 'risky' play. In response, I received a blank email with a press release document and two photos of the 'vandalised' premises damaged by the 'squatters'. In her desperate attempt to blame the people trying to save this community play space, she hadn't even read my email. I made no reference to the people occupying the playground, just the grounds for why I oppose what the council are doing. Shameful.
Esther

24 January 2013

'Exciting' equipment for the little kids ? Maybe, but what about the teenagers and the excitement and pleasure they got from the adventure playground ? No, let them go onto the streets and do what they will, because you aleady sacked the staff who made that adventure playground both safe and exciting ? That's why the playground will be open longer, because the whole world will be free to move in and out of this unsuperintended site. By the way, after you get the One O'Clock Centre back, how long do you intend still to continue running the One O'Clock Club ? Do you plan to find the staffing of that unduly onerous ? Comment, please ?
Robin

23 January 2013

Why does the council want to spend £200,000 on this when there don't appear to be any problems with the existing site? Also it was left out of the article the reasons for the adventure playground's occupation. Namely the preservation of the playground as it stands now.
Daniel Marino-Austin

23 January 2013

It seems that the Adventure Playground now won't cater for older children, why is this? Also, your report covers one side of the story, why did the Occupation begin in the first place?
Caroline Austin

23 January 2013

You have destroyed an historic and much loved Adventure Playground ignoring the views of nearly 6000 petition signatories. Why couldn't you use the huge income you get from film shoots, commercial lets to the cafe and exhibition centre and the huge fees you charge private sports clubs to hire pitches. It is terrible to see how little our council cares about our kids.
Lois Davis

23 January 2013

What Wandsworth Council fails to say is that 0ver 80% of carers and parents vote "no" to the plans in their own survey. They also fail to say that they refused to investigate other alternatives proposed by London Play and Kids' Company, together with other local people. They also fail to mention that nearly 6000 people have signed the petition to keep STAFFED Adventurous Play. What they are replacing it with is boring catalogue bought structures suitable for under 10's.
Jane

23 January 2013