New Manstone play area to be given a minimum of £35,000, possibly more

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. - Credit: Archant

A minimum of £35,000, potentially more, will be contributed to the new Sidmouth play park.

The Herald previous reported parents’ ‘disgust’ after children were left with barely any equipment to play on at the Manstone Play Area.

At the time East Devon District Council (EDDC) said the climbing frame was removed because its condition had deteriorated to a point where despite numerous repairs, they could no longer guarantee the safety of the children using it. In January, EDDC’s Capital Allocation Group supported the funding of £35,000 for a replacement park, on the basis that £20,000 would come from the local community.

EDDC has agreed to contribute £15,000 while the Keith Owen Fund has indicated that it will consider contributing a further £15,000.

At its latest meeting, Sidmouth Town councillors were asked to discuss whether they would be willing to provide the remaining money and possible more – for a better quality playground.

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They were also asked to discuss the potentially move for the ownership of the site to be transferred from EDDC to the town council, once it had been replaced - since it already owned and maintained the adjacent football ground and skate park.

During the meeting Councillor Jeff Turner proposed they contributed £10,000 while Cllr Marc Kilsbie said the authority should provide match funding.

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Concerns were also raised about exactly what they would be getting for their money and whether they would be involved in a consultation undertaken by EDDC, asking Manstone children what they wanted to play on.

Town clerk Christopher Holland said: “The money we have in the start the better play park we will have.

“Play equipment it notoriously expensive – you could spend £30,000 on just that one play unit.”

Cllr Louise Cole said: “Play is so important – it is important for social inclusion, connection, activity and weight lose – there are so many reasons we should try and contribute as much as we possibly can.”

Councillors in the end agreed to contribute a minimum of £5,000. Following a public consultation and discussions with the EDDC, together with a report outlining what equipment could be purchased, the town council will consider additional funding.

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