Parents blast EDDC

Sarah Rowe with others with concerns over the location of the new sports wall. Ref sho 8254-25-15TI.

Sarah Rowe with others with concerns over the location of the new sports wall. Ref sho 8254-25-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A £15,000 sports wall in Ottery will go ahead as planned, despite more than 200 people signing a petition against its proposed location.

Parents and councillors have hit out at East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) decision to press on with installing the new attraction in Winters Lane recreation field and criticised its handling of what ‘should never have been a contentious issue’.

Members of the community raised concerns that the proposed location of the sports wall poses a danger to children and launched a petition urging the authority to reconsider the site.

Speaking in support of them, Councillor Roger Giles said: “I actually asked EDDC to defer construction of the sports wall because of the level and strength of concern of people.”

He questioned why his request has been ignored.

EDDC confirmed this week that it will not delay the installation of the wall because it says there is minimal risk,.

But it said inclusion of cricket stumps has been revised to reduce any danger to small children.

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Mother-of-two Sarah Row says she is relieved the council responded to parents’ concerns about the cricket stumps, but she is ‘extremely disappointed in the way it handled the whole process’.

“Handled in the right way, this should never have been a contentious issue and I still believe a better outcome could have been achieved.” she said.

“Everyone wants great facilities for our children.

“But we also want meaningful involvement into how these great ideas are turned into reality.

“Those who signed the petition were simply asking for a conversation with EDDC.

“EDDC appears to have taken an incredibly resistant and defensive approach to something that should, and could have been positive for the whole community. I genuinely do not understand why.”

She added that the authority should look at the way it operates to avoid ‘painful mistakes’.

An EDDC spokesman said: “The scheduled installation of the sports wall will not be delayed.

“When deciding on the site for the sports wall in Winters Lane, we considered all the health and safety aspects and were satisfied that there is minimal risk providing the facility is used in a reasonable manner.

“We documented these considerations in a risk assessment, and believe we are meeting our legal duty of care.

“Whilst we appreciate the concerns of some of the community, we feel there is a wider group who will be looking forward to the new facility.

“Although we perceive the increased risk to children of the inclusion of the cricket stumps to be low, we are prepared to be reasonable and listen to the concerns raised about this.”