Safety fears at town play area

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PARENTS fear children’s safety is at risk at a state-of-the-art play facility in a popular Bury St Edmunds beauty spot.

They have hit out at the lack of fencing around the £200,000 play park in the Abbey Gardens and warned that children could wander off and fall into the nearby river.

Concerns have also been raised about the shortage of equipment for older children, which is posing risks for youngsters.

A page on the social networking website Facebook has been set up calling for improved safety in the park.

Speaking to the Bury Free Press, childminder and grandmother Chris Fitzjohn, of Bury, said: “It’s so easy for a child to run off as it’s so unsafe. The worst case scenario is a child running off across the bridge and into the river.”

She added that there was ‘not enough equipment’ for children aged over five.

“There is a lovely round basket-type swing but this is in the toddler area and I have witnessed young children being knocked over by it when older children are on it,” she said.

Mum Phoebe Frost, 30, of Bury, called for a fence to be built around the area after her four-year-old son Dexter wandered off and went missing for 25 minutes. She said: “I was panic-stricken. Some older boys had caught his attention and he managed to get past me and everyone else. I used to come down to the gardens four days a week but now I would choose Nowton Park. You have to pay for the parking but I know my children are safe, enclosed and secure.”

Caroline McMahon, 41, of Bury, who has two autistic sons, added: “There’s no way I would bring them. The biggest issue I would have is the river which is completely unfenced.”

A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council said thousands of children had used the play area safely since it opened last year.

She added: “We are about to carry out a user survey, which can also be found on our website. We welcome all feedback about the play area which will be used to review what is working. If anyone has immediate concerns about inappropriate use of equipment or behaviour, parks staff are on hand to help.”

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