Sidmouth �40k play park open!

Families and civic leaders celebrate at The Ham

FAMILIES and civic leaders celebrated on Sunday when a popular Sidmouth children’s play area was officially opened after getting a �40,000 facelift.

And as our photos show, scores of children didn’t waste any time in getting to grips with the first-class facility at The Ham.

Parents first pleaded for a revamp of the area around three years ago and were ‘chuffed to bits’ by improvements that include climbing rocks, a basket swing, a tall spinning item and a zip wire.

Kids described the play area as ‘awesome’.

Town councillors spent years searching for funding and were equally as delighted.

“It’s a well-used and well-loved area, and it’s great to see it done up,” said Councillor Simon Pollentine who, along with Cllr Frances Newth, set out to secure funding after mums first asked for a better facility.

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“We were always unlucky with funding but, thankfully, that changed. To see it finally happen is fantastic,” added Cllr Pollentine.

“We’ve got other play parks we want to upgrade to the same standard. Sadly there’s no magic pots of money lying about.”

Sidmouth Town Council splashed �10,000 of its funds on the bid and was handed a further �10,000 from the Sid Vale Association’s (SVA) Keith Owen Fund.

More than half of the scheme’s total cost, around �20,000, came from ‘section 106’ money - cash secured from developers by East Devon District Council as a condition of planning permission.

The bare wall of Bagwells fish shop became a massive mural with the help of children as part of the project. Youngsters painted their own tiles during a fun day in April.

The SVA donated a further �250 in Keith Owen Fund cash to the mural project, organised by mum Louise Cole and artist Coco Hodgkinson.

Mr Pollentine added he hoped shoppers can boost the town council’s bid to improve play areas further. He said play provision funds have been selected as one of Waitrose’s charities of the month in August.