Council listens on play centre plan

Published: 29 June 2011

The council is to look again at pilot proposals to introduce a modest entrance charge for the large adventure play centre in Battersea Park at weekends.

Children's services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "We have listened very carefully to all the suggestions and points of view that have been made on this issue and feel it would be right and proper to explore these more fully before looking at this matter again."

The pilot proposal concerned the introduction of a £2.50 admission fee at weekends for the centre, which boasts some of the most challenging and exciting play equipment anywhere in London.

It is unique in this part of London because it is fully staffed at all times to ensure that children can enjoy the wide range of play equipment safely and under proper supervision. It also boasts a range of other attractions, including staff supervised street dance and drumming workshops, music and singing tuition, arts and crafts and sports coaching.

Cllr Tracey added: "People must remember that we are not talking about a normal run-of-the-mill playground. It is a highly sophisticated, fully staffed leisure complex that costs local taxpayers more than £200,000 a year to run.
"Councils up and down the country regularly charge for the use of sport and recreation facilities. We are simply suggesting that visitors pay a very small charge to enjoy this specialised leisure facility.

"There is no question of charges being introduced at our normal playgrounds, or at the borough's two other adventure play centres. These would all continue to be free.

"Unfortunately the council's financial situation means that we are having to find big savings across all our services. As a result of the nation's debt and deficit levels, we have been left with no choice other than to reduce our spending by at least £70m over four years including by £30m next year alone.

"Over the past four years we have spent £2.5 million on maintaining and improving Wandsworth's 200 playgrounds and play areas, which demonstrates how much we value them. If we do decide to introduce this charge, then that money will help keep this play centre open and allow us to continue investing in its future."

There are three adventure play centres in Wandsworth. The other two are in King George's Park in Southfields and Battersea's York Gardens. 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.