Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)
The Cabinet Member considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which responded to a petition bearing 22 signatures, sponsored by Councillor McNicholas, a Lower Stoke Ward Councillor, which had been submitted to the City Council on, 18th July, 2018. The petition requested that the Council refurbish the Tick Tock children’s play area located within Stoke Green Park. Appended to the report were the following: an areal photo, a boundary photo, the original design, the post installation report and asset photos. The petition spokesperson was invited to the meeting but was unable to attend, Councillor McNicholas spoke on behalf of the petitioners.
The report noted that the play site was located within Stoke Green in the South of the City just off the Binley Road and included a number of items of play equipment designed to cater for the younger age group. There were also a number of infrastructural elements associated with the play area including fencing, tarmac paths and safer surfacing. The park was under the control of the Councils Greenspace Service within the Place Directorate.
In 2012 the Gosford Residents Association (GRA) submitted a successful application to the Jubilee People’s Millions Big Lottery and were awarded £56,000.00 to construct a play area. The original idea to provide timber equipment on site was not supported by Parks Service and the plans were revised to incorporate more durable metal equipment. The Greenspace Service also stated that their preference was for Dura Sports’ Impact Play Grass safety surfacing as this was proven to be long lasting and durable, however the group confirmed that they had decided to use “Matta” grass reinforcing rubber matting as it was cheaper and they could provide an additional item of equipment if that was used.
As part of the funding agreement the City Council had to agree to inspect and maintain the play area for a minimum of 5 years following opening, which was agreed. New seats, waste bins and a new notice board were provided by Parks Service, along with an illustrated name sign. The play area opened in 2012 and was independently inspected by The Play Inspection Company included in Appendix 2 to the report.
Shortly after the play area opened the GRA confirmed that they wanted to provide an additional item of equipment, the large Multi-play Tube slide, however they did not have enough funds. Parks Service provided funds of around £17k towards its provision and installation including Dura Sports’ Impact Play Grass safety surfacing. Parks Service also funded the refurbishment of the paved crescent within the play area at a cost of around £13k including improvements to a macadam footpath.
Since the play area opened two of the original items have had to be removed due to on-going maintenance issues and vandalism. The “Glow worm see-saw” was removed and replaced by a Play Train which was purchased by the GRA. The Greenspace Service funded its installation and provision of the Impact Play Grass safety surfacing at a cost of around £3k. The “Rotor play round-a-bout” was currently awaiting replacement. Streetpride had confirmed that this would be replaced with a Sutcliffe Leisure “Spinning Disc”. It was anticipated that this would be installed in approximately 10 weeks. The Greenspace Service also provided an additional double swing in 2013 at a cost with barriers of £5.5k.
The large multi-play unit suffered from arson several years ago and all the damaged items were replaced at that time. Some sections of the unit were still awaiting a fresh coat of paint, although this had not been identified as a priority. The GRA recently contacted the Councils Parks Service regarding the deterioratingcondition of the “Matta” grass reinforcing rubber matting. The Parks Service facilitated a meeting with Dura Sport who provided the group a quote of £15.5k to remove the rubber matting and replace with their Impact Play Grass safety surfacing. The group later confirmed that they did not have enough funds and enquired as to whether Parks Service would contribute towards it. It was agreed that the cost would be split 50:50. This work was currently being programmed.
When external or internal inspections were undertaken, consideration was also given to the serviceable life expectancy of the facility, usually on an item by item basis as not all equipment needed to be replaced at the same time. In these cases, recommendations were made as to what items should be considered for replacement or improvement and the works were then included in the play area maintenance programme. Currently there were no items of equipment on site identified as beyond practicable use.
A full refurbishment of this play area would cost approximately £110k to complete. Parks Service does not have the existing resources to undertake this proposal, however they did not consider this would be necessary anyway as all the equipment was within six years old.
The nearest other play facility was located at Gosford Green and the Tick Tock play facility falls outside its catchment area. The eventual removal of this play facility would leave the local community without any play provision within a reasonable distance. It was therefore recommended that the Councils Park Service retain the facility and it continued to explore and exploit all funding opportunity both external and internal to replace items which reached the end of their practicable life with dynamic and high play value items of equipment and when possible install additional items to provide an exciting and stimulating play environment.
Councillor McNicholas was supportive of the recommendations and noted that this park was loved by the community and he was delighted that the report recognised the importance of retaining the local play area.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities:
1. Note that inspections of the play area have identified that the equipment is still within its practicable life.
2. Note that the Tick Tock play facility falls outside the catchment area of the nearest equipped local play facility
3. Agree that the Tick Tock play area be retained and that items of the existing play equipment be replaced as and when it reaches the end of their practicable life and be funded through a combination of external funding and existing budget provision.