Cash call for the South Ribble playground where kids have to queue to use its only swing

Families in Walton-le-Dale have launched a campaign to restore a park at the centre of their community to its former glory.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 9:09 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 9:24 am

A solitary swing now stands in the middle of Walton Park playground – the only remaining piece of play equipment in an area that once offered children a choice which included a climbing frame, slide and rocking horse.

But over the thirty years since the Bellis Way facility was built, it has gradually gone from a gathering point to a forlorn-looking reminder of what locals once enjoyed. Even the furniture in the wider green space – wooden benches and bollards – is visibly rotting away.

Its deterioration has prompted more than 150 residents to set up a ‘friends group’ with the aim of raising the cash needed to return the park to its original purpose.

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The fun stops here - families gather around Walton Park playground's last piece of equipment

“People don’t really bring their children on here at the moment,” explained the group’s chair, Stephanie Harrison.

“It can be badly littered with dog-fouling and vandalised by youths – and those families who do come have to operate a queuing system for the swing so everyone gets a turn.”

The friends group has set itself a target of £50,000 to bring the park back to life.

“We’d like some robust and safe equipment – as broad a range as we can fit in such a small area. Anything that will get kids out in the fresh air rather than sitting in front of the TV,” said Stephanie, adding that the cash would also be used to create a calming place for all residents to relax.

The park's benches appear to have seen better days

The group will bid for funding from various sources, as well as trying to raise money directly. Ward councillor Matt Campbell said he has also been lobbying South Ribble Borough Council to persuade them to contribute.

“The area has been neglected over the years with bits of equipment vandalised – and then just taken away rather than repaired.

“There are a lot of families in the area and there is no [other] play area for them – you’ve got to travel around five miles to get to the nearest one,” Cllr Campbell said.

He added that he and fellow ward councillor Damien Bretherton were also in contact with the police about patrolling the area, after concerns in recent years about teenagers congregating to set fires and even take drugs.

Can the community raise enough money to better the playground's current lone offering?

Cllr Bretherton said: “It’s been obvious for ten years or more that we really needed to do something with this area.”

South Ribble Borough Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it intends to work closely with residents and councillors to discuss the future of the park.

The 30-year-old park is starting to show its age