Kids finally get some variety at revamped South Ribble playground

A playground in South Ribble that had been reduced to just a single swing has been given the facelift that locals have been longing for.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 11:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 11:36 pm

The facility at Walton Park in Walton-le-Dale had seen items of clapped-out kit gradually removed over recent years when it came to the end of its life – but never replaced.

That eventually left children having to queue for the only piece of play equipment available to enjoy at the 30-year-old Bellis Way site – the stoical, and seemingly indestructible, swing.

However, as the Post revealed last year, South Ribble Borough Council stumped up £30,000 to restore the playground to something worthy of the name, while a local ‘friends’ group – set up just 18 months ago with the aim of breathing life back into the area – secured the same amount from the Lancashire Environmental Fund.

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A dual slide is one of the new attractions at the revamped Bellis Way playground, a facility that Cllrs Matt Campbell (centre) and Damian Bretherton (left) have been campaigning for, along with local residents (image: Neil Cross)

The resultant revamp is now largely complete and the park once again reverberates to the sound of children spoiled for choice by play possibilities everywhere they look – which now including slides, a roundabout and see-saw.

“Everybody loves it – and I got quite emotional when I first saw it being used,” said Stephanie Harrison, chair of the Friends of Bellis Way Playground Group.

“After lockdown, watching all the children playing together and seeing their friends from nursery or school was really moving. And of course it’s not just the children – parents are there talking to each other as well.

“I’m overjoyed with the equipment – it’s far beyond anything I could have hoped for. It was really important to us that we had something for a range of abilities.

In recent years, the playground in Walton Park had been all swing....

“The council is also putting extra money in to put new gates on all the access points, do some work on the paths and really finish it all off.”

The wider park in which the playground sits is intended to be a multi-use area for children and adults alike – for games or just somewhere to sit and relax.

The friends group is now appealing for local volunteers to help with the finishing touches that are still to be put to the park, once Covid restrictions have been lifted further. The jobs to be done include fence-painting and planting new, low-level shrubs to give better views across the area than were allowed by the dense foliage that previously dominated the park’s soon-to-be-redesigned rotunda.

Walton-le-Dale West ward councillor Matt Campbell said that the new-look facility was already proving a popular stop-off point on the way home from school.

..and no roundabout - until now (image: Neil Cross)

“I think it really will transform families’ spare time and weekends in this area, They’ll no longer have to drive to playgrounds on the other side of South Ribble, because they can walk to this one.

“I’m pleased that the work has been done so quickly, because it is something that could easily have dragged on,” said Cllr Campbell.

The Conservative politician also thanked the Labour former cabinet member Sue Jones for her support in making the project a reality.

The new equipment has transformed the playground for Walton-le-Dale's youngsters (image: Neil Cross)
There is still a place for a swing at the Bellis Way playground - but a better one than the the local children have been used to (image: Neil Cross)
The colourful kit has proved a hit with its fun-loving young users