Nearly-empty Sidmouth play park may get new equipment, but only if community finds £20,000

Back row: Lilly Lee, 9, and Alfie Harvey,8. Front row: Eithan Lee,6, Poppy Harvey, 5, and Brody Bray

Back row: Lilly Lee, 9, and Alfie Harvey,8. Front row: Eithan Lee,6, Poppy Harvey, 5, and Brody Bray, 4 all in the nearly empty playpark. - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth play park, which was removed last month, could be replaced - but only if the ‘local community’ can find £20,000.

Youngsters were left with barely anything to play on when the climbing frame in the Manstone playground, in Manstone Lane, was removed by East Devon District Council (EDDC).

The Herald previously reported how parents and grandparents had been left ‘disgusted’ by the lack of equipment for younger children to play on.

When the Herald contacted the council, the authority said it removed the climbing frame because its condition had deteriorated to a point where, despite numerous repairs, it could no longer guarantee the safety of the children using it.

Some parents contacted the authority and said they were told it would not be replaced because there was no funding available.

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East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Capital Allocation Group held a meeting last month to discuss various bids for funding in 2018.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “The group supported the funding of £35,000 for a replacement play park at Manstone in Sidmouth, on the basis that £20,000 would come from the local community, with £15,000 from East Devon.

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“This is the initial phase of the budget-setting process and the final decision on the council’s budget is not taken until council meets on February 28.”

She added local children would be included in decisions about the park’s design.

Angie Carney, a community development manager at Sidmouth Salvation Army, is based in the youth centre next to the play park.

She said: “I am sure young families living in this part of Sidmouth and those with children at nearby Sidmouth Primary School will be extremely disappointed to learn that a contribution from EDDC towards providing a safe, welcoming play space for their children is conditional upon the local community finding £20,000. I meet many parents who are working very hard at making ends meet and bringing up their children to know they are noticed, valued and loved. I understand that budgets are being stretched in these days, but this will feel like a huge blow to this, too often overlooked, part of our community.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes said he hoped to contribute around £1,000 towards the £20,000 needed.

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