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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.