Fears over play safety

With reference to the letter ‘Criticism of playground’ (Bury Free Press, April 6).

I am a registered childminder and have undertaken risk assessments in the Abbey Gardens, a requirement of Ofsted when taking children to other places like parks, and feel the risks are very high unless there is a one to one child-adult ratio.

The play area covers a very large area with no outer fence to prevent a child running off towards the bridge where they like to feed the ducks and the open river on the other side. Children do not have the understanding of how dangerous it is to run towards a river with ducks.

Or a child can run towards the ruins where there are dangerous walls to fall off and dips to fall down.

There is not enough equipment for children over five years – no slide for them, no separate swings away from the younger children, no climbing frame – all they can do is run around the area. There is a lovely round/basket type swing but this is again in the toddler area and I have witnessed young children being knocked over when older children are on it.

Yes, there is a tree house but there is a notice saying not suitable for over eights and when the Abbey Gardens is busy there are too many children on it at a time, making it a high risk for injury.

I raised my safety worries about children using the play area at a meeting of the Friends of Abbey Gardens on February 8 with council and Abbey Gardens staff present but was made to feel there is no issue and was even told that parents should keep a closer watch on their children whilst there.

I am sure all adults using the park area keep a close eye on their children at all times but it only takes a split-second lapse in concentration and any child, especially a toddler, can disappear very quickly.

Something needs to be done before the lovely willow hedges make keeping sight of children harder. I understand the park is a big attraction for visitors to the town but it is also for people who live in the town to use, especially those who have no transport to use the pay-for-parking parks outside of town, so safety needs to be considered as well as looks.

I would encourage any person who does not agree there are safety issues to visit the play area, if possible with children.

Chris Fitzjohn (accredited childminder),

via email.