Leyland's playgrounds' battle gaining momentum

Playground campaigners, councillor Matthew Tomlinson, with  Aniela Bylinski Gelder, centre, and Kim Snape, the prospective Labour Parliamentary candidate for South Ribble.
Playground campaigners, councillor Matthew Tomlinson, with Aniela Bylinski Gelder, centre, and Kim Snape, the prospective Labour Parliamentary candidate for South Ribble.
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Campaigners are stepping up their fight to save Leyland’s playgrounds from being redeveloped.

Objectors worried about the future of Leyland’s play areas are expected to turn out in force at full council next month.

Organisers of already hefty petitions launched to try and safeguard the areas are urging more support.

Campaign supporter South Ribble councillor Matthew Tomlinson said: “There’s still no news from the council with what they intend to do. They did write to residents over Christmas about the consultation on the future of playgrounds.”

Two play areas in Leyland have come under threat - Balcarres Road and Bent Lane.

Councillor Tomlinson added: “I think there’s going to be a big turnout at full council. Lots of people are really concerned about the future of playgrounds. The way in which the consultation has been run has set a lot of hares running.”

He said childhood obesity and air quality were important issues to take into consideration.

“From my point of view, at Turpin Green Lane, we’re above the Government guidelines on air quality. Saying they’re going to build on green spaces doesn’t make any sense.”

Balcarres campaigner Aniela Bylinski Gelder, 38, said there were four main issues in fighting for the green space to remain untouched - recreational; mental and physical wellbeing; air quality; and drainage.

The mum of two daughters - aged seven and nine - said: “I’m a stay at home mother and green spaces for me were absolutely essential for me to out out and meet others mothers.”

She said it was vital for mental health, as well as physical health, adding that Turpin Green Lane, a main artery to the M6, was an air quality blackspot and that not only new homes add to the problems, but drainage could be affected, too, in an area she descibed as “a sink”.

A petiiton received more than 900 signatures online and 100 from local residents.

“Taking everything into considertion, I think it would be irresponsible,” she Aniela.

Jo Hindle-Taylor has launched an online petition on change.org to South Ribble Council for the Bent Lane site, with a Friends of Strawberry Valley Park Group set up to revitalise the green space.

She urged this week: “Let’s get this petition doing the rounds again to reinforce how much its needed.”

South Ribble Council wrote to residents advising them that it was “considering all appropriate uses” for several pieces of open space which did not form part of its green links strategy – including whether they could help “address the gap in affordable homes” in the borough.

Cabinet member for regeneration and leisure, Phil Smith, said regarding specific proposals for the green links plan that the report “certainly doesn’t say anything about closing playgrounds down.”

He said; “There’s an awful lot of scaremongering going on about things like that – and I wish it would stop.”

The council has published a 10-year vision for the network, which will be made up of a series of paths designed to be multi-use and where no individual user group has priority.

Deputy leader Caroline Moon said the project was “unique” to South Ribble. She said: “I’m pleased that we’re not just focusing on putting the green links in, but maintaining them so that they’re in as good a condition in ten years.”