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 10 signatures, which had been submitted to the City Council on 8th July, 2017. The petition requested that that the Council update the children’s play area located within Radford Common. Items of existing equipment were shown in an appendix to the report. The petition spokesperson was invited to the meeting but was unable to attend.
The report noted that Radford Common was a small site located close to the busy Radford Road in the North East area of the City. The play area contained a number of items of equipment designed to be appropriate for both the younger age group aged 4 to 7 years and the senior age group 8 to 13 years. In addition, the play site also included items for informal sports play, this included a basketball area and football. Infrastructural elements associated with the play site included fencing, seating, bins, tarmac footpaths and safer surfacing.
There used to be a paddling pool on the site which was closed and filled in sometime in the 1990’s as it was continually being subject to vandalism and the cost of repair had become unsustainable. The existing play area was installed in 2009 in response to requests from local residents and from external income including section 106 funding. During its construction the play area suffered from considerable antisocial behaviour (ASB) including arson. This ASB continued for 6-8 months afterwards. As a result of the high levels ASB a CCTV camera was installed which overlooked the main play area which was controlled and monitored by the police. Although the site still experienced ASB, particularly in the evenings it was now considerably less than that experienced some years ago.
The play area was divided into 3 areas with the teenage area set away from the main play facility to avoid any potential conflicts between differing age groups. Overall the site had a generous provision of varying equipment as detailed in the report.
During 2015/16 the Parks Service operational budget was reduced by £1m from 2016. As part of its financial strategy the service now reviewed the replacement of play equipment as and when its practicable life ends. When external or internal inspections were undertaken, 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. Inspections had indicated that all the equipment was in good condition and sound practicable use.
A full refurbishment of this play area had been considered however this would cost a minimum of approximately £150,000 to complete and the Parks Service did not have the existing resources to undertake this proposal. The option to remove and not replace items of equipment deemed to have reached the end of their practicable life was considered however, this would result in the gradual further and overall reduction in the play value and benefit of the facility over time and lead to its eventual removal. The nearest other play facility was located at Coundon Park and Radford Common 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 continued to explore and exploit all funding opportunity both external and internal to replace items which reach 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.
The Cabinet Member recognised that this petition had been submitted in 2017 and apologised for the delay in the decision.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities:
1. Note that inspections of the play area have identified that the equipment is in good condition and sound practicable use.
2. Note that Radford Common falls outside the catchment area of the nearest equipped local play facility
3. Agree that Radford Common 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.