Are Sidmouth play parks the 'worst around'?
PUBLISHED: 07:28 14 April 2017
A review of Sidmouth's play areas has been called for after it was revealed many families are shunning them and travelling as far as Teignmouth and Paignton instead.
Some parents have branded the town’s facilities as ‘the worst around’ and a ‘missed opportunity’ - despite tens of thousands of pounds being invested in recent years.
The chairman of Sidmouth Town Council, Jeff Turner, responded by telling the Herald: “It’s struck me that we could do rather better.”
Dad-of-two Matt Portman said at a Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce business breakfast this week that more investment is needed to keep young people in Sidmouth.
Accountant Mr Portman told Councillor Turner, who was a guest at the meeting, that a number of fami-lies, including his own, travel to Seaton, Teignmouth and Paignton.
Mr Portman told the Herald: “I’m not really aware of many who will make a special trip to visit the Ham.
“Sidmouth has a lot to offer with its independent trading, well-main-tained shops and many great eateries. Despite what many people think, kids do enjoy outdoor play and would not always prefer to be sat in front of a computer or TV.
“I know that play equipment costs a large amount of money to purchase and also to maintain, but there are significant benefits avail-able where play areas are constructed correctly. There is a real missed opportunity here for the town, especially given the excellent location of the Ham as it is near the pool, the beach and parking for non-residents.”
The matter has been a hot topic on the Herald’s Facebok page, where parents have shared their hopes for improved play facilities. Laura Southcott posted: “Poor old sunny Sidmouth probably hosts the worst play parks around, to be honest. Being that Sidmouth is supposedly trying to encourage young families, we do need to start putting in some efforts for youngsters’ entertainment. Before I drove it was a nightmare. Please improve play areas in our beautiful town. We have an amazing beach, but in the winter there’s not a lot to do.”
Sidmouth Town Council owns the Ham and Long Park, with other play areas managed by East Devon District Council.
Since 2011, the town council has spent £50,000 to improve the Ham and has earmarked ‘section 106’ money, cash from developers, to revamp it further.
Work is also under way on a £60,000 over-haul of the Manstone Lane play facility to turn into a multi-games area for all ages. EDDC also spent £29,000 to install new equipment in the area by The Byes.
Cllr Turner, who is a grandfather-of-two, said: “Following the [chamber of commerce] meeting, it occurred to me that perhaps we need to find out how the play parks need to be improved.
“If people are travelling to Teignmouth, maybe we need to go and have a look and see what’s different about it.”