Payment plan to keep play centre open
Published: 12 May 2011
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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