Mums attack outdated play park

PUBLISHED: 17:20 16 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:41 17 June 2010

YOUNG mothers are rallying support to ask for the upgrading of Sidmouth s play park at The Ham. So far 300 have put their name to a request to Sidmouth Town Council, trustees of The Ham, to regenerate the play area, which they describe as inadequate and

YOUNG mothers are rallying support to ask for the upgrading of Sidmouth's play park at The Ham.

So far 300 have put their name to a request to Sidmouth Town Council, trustees of The Ham, to regenerate the play area, which they describe as inadequate and outdated.

Coco Hodgkinson, one of the mothers from All Saints Infants, will speak to the council at its next meeting.

She has been gathering photographs and researching play equipment for younger as well as older children, which she will present to councillors on June 16.

She said: "More and more families are buying homes in Sidmouth and I don't think they are being catered for.

"People walk from the beach through the Byes and ask me if there is a play park. They can't believe it when I tell them."

Friend Sarah Hall, who has children aged six, four and two, said: "It is not adequate. It is rusty, old and I don't think it is safe for children. It isn't a challenge to them, it is dull."

Claire Ashby, mother of a six, four and one-year-old, agreed: "The children don't run in here excited. They need more variety and activities for different ages."

They highlight Teignmouth play area as being a good model to base ideas on, suggesting replacing a rusting climbing frame with "dangerous" chain ladder, with a pirate ship, balance pole and other equipment designed to keep children fit.

Ideally they would like the area split into sections, giving a safe place for younger children to play and believe the seaside town could have more day visitors with an attractive play park.

"I am more likely to have a bumble about with a ball in Blackmore Gardens because it is not relaxing here. It doesn't keep them very happy," said Mrs Ashby.

Eileen Flaherty, whose children are two and six, agreed there were "a lot of safety issues" and described the chain ladder as "a death trap".

She said: "There are so many new products to challenge children to play and better encourage their balance.

"We have no argument with the council, we are not having a go or pointing the finger. We want to work with them, not against them for the good of the children's activities in Sidmouth."

Mrs Hodgkinson is looking into the possibility of finding grant aid and mustering support from local businesses. She would also like the views of nearby residents.

She said: "The town council was really helpful and enthusiastic to hear everyone's points of view."

Town councillor Simon Pollentine, whose responsibilities include The Ham, said: "They are not saying anything we don't know. We do know it is tired and we know it needs upgrading.

He said equipment cost "an extraordinary amount of money," adding: "We may have to bite the bullet and put money in the budget for next year to do it."

Mr Pollentine agreed the Teignmouth park was state of the art and said: "I assume they had a windfall.

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