Frustration over ‘woeful’ play areas

Children's play areas in Thetford.
Children's play areas in Thetford.

Thetford’s children are being forced to use ‘woeful’ play areas while council negotiations drag on, according to a councillor.

Corinne Fulford told Thetford Town Council on Wednesday that the eight play areas currently run by Breckland Council were in a ‘shocking state’.

“The general lack of suitable play areas, and the poor state of existing ones has been a concern for residents for many years,” she said.

Negotiations to pass the areas into the hands of the town council have been ongoing since 2008, when members agreed to take them on at a cost of £175,000.

In the meantime, Breckland has agreed to improve and maintain the play areas until they are handed over.

But these improvements have not happened, according to Cllr Fulford, who chairs the town council’s Amenities Committee.

“The council is all too aware that they are in a shocking state and will need considerable investment to bring them up to an acceptable standard.

“This is money that the council does not have, and the ongoing costs associated with them is also of concern,” she said.

Mark Kiddle-Morris, executive member for asset management at Breckland, said he was awaiting a ‘wish list’ from Thetford Town Council before negotiations can progress.

“We first held a meeting at Breckland Council in August 2010 where the principles of playground transfers were discussed openly with all town council representatives.

“Since then we have been working towards a transfer with Thetford Town Council on the play areas and have expended a significant amount of time on this project.

“I attended a meeting with Thetford Town Council in June 2012 at which I agreed to accept a wish list of items for remedial works the town would like carried out before the transfers takes place.

“Unfortunately to date we have still not received that wish list of items and that is preventing us moving forward.”

The eight play areas are Guildford Way, Edinburgh Way, Canon’s Walk, Elm Road, Pine Close, Bergamot Close, Fairfields and Harriet Martineau Place.

The Castle Park play area is already run by the town council.

To see a gallery of pictures and video of the play areas, go to www.buryfreepress.co.uk