June 19 2013 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Reporter
Friday, February 1, 2013
Up to £100,000 is needed to completely renovate the play area for young children in Valentines Park before spring.
Council leisure operator Vision requested a £20,000 grant towards the new under-eights area from Redbridge Council’s area seven committee, covering Newbury, Valentines and Cranbrook wards, at a meeting on Tuesday.
It is hoped to have exciting new toys and climbing frames including a miniature Noah’s Ark, phone box talk tubes and a springy tortoise.
A Vision representative told the meeting at Highlands Primary School, in Highlands Gardens, that some play equipment in the popular park, in Cranbrook Road, is over 30 years old and “coming to the end of its life”.
Parts of the play area may have to be shut off if it falls into disrepair without being replaced.
In August, Gants Hill mum Cheryl Firouzman called for immediate improvements to the park after her three-year-old daughter Sarah broke her wrist.
She told the Recorder she slipped on the slide steps and fell after trying to grab a “rotting wooden bannister”.
Mrs Firouzman said: “I feel, as a mother, that they should close it all and revamp the whole thing.”
The slide was fenced off after the incident.
But for some councillors, the request was too much out of their £63,000 annual budget.
Cllr Elaine Norman said: “All investment in Valentines Park can’t come from area seven.
“It’s for borough children and it’s a borough park.”
She suggested Vision requested funding from other area committees and the Redbridge Council children’s services.
But Cllr Shoaib Patel urged the committee to give the full £20,000
He added: “The park gets so many visitors from outside of the borough and it would be a shame if we couldn’t provide something absolutely essential for the children.
“It’s an investment for the future.”
A member of the public said the park should be a priority for councillors, whatever the cost.
She said: “I have 15 grandchildren and they use the park every single day.
“The funding needs to be there now.”
After a heated debate, the committee voted by five to three to give £10,000 towards the scheme.
Vision itself is also contributing £10,000 and is requesting funds from the 2012 Legacy Fund.
No strategy for getting the remaining minimum £55,000 needed was outlined.
If they do not have the full amount needed for the park at first, “priority” toys like swings will be installed first and the rest of the equipment afterwards.
Works are due to begin by April 1.