Council 'fell victim to weather conditions' when making £44k of improvements to Haslam play park

Preston city council says it had to spend some of the park refurbishment cash on tackling drainage issues that will benefit the area for years to come - and that no funding is yet available for more play equipment.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 2:42 pm

The council have responded to the concerns of local residents who were left disappointed at new improvements made to an outdoor Ashton play area.

The Haslam park play area was closed for almost five months in November in what was set to be a major overhaul, with its grounds drained and new equipment installed.

But parents were left scratching their heads at the works, questioning where the £44,203.05 budget had been spent following its reopening.

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The Council spent £44k on works to the park recently

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Parents 'saddened' by £40,000 improvements at Haslam Park play area

The council have since apologised to unhappy residents, explaining that some of the cash had to be spent on landscaping and groundworks which have since fallen victim to intermittent rainfall and damp conditions.

Councillor Robert Boswell, Cabinet member for environment, said: “We are sorry to hear some residents are unhappy with the recent works at Haslam Park play area.

"This was scheduled as a partial refurbishment, aiming to improve the infrastructure of the play area with the available external funding that was secured.

The Council blamed rainy conditions for the state of the ground

"Most of the £44,000 available went on landscaping and groundworks, including drainage, surfacing and installation of play equipment (£27,000) some of which is not visible but will benefit the infrastructure of the play area for many years to come.

"Landscaping and grass re-seeding is fundamentally weather dependent. Unfortunately, when other works were complete and it was time to re-open the play area, intermittent rainfall and footfall at the site severely hampered how the ground now looks. We share residents’ disappointment but fell victim to the conditions.

"We would always like to do more but are limited by the money available. If further external funding becomes available, a second phase, with a focus on the play area and equipment would be considered.”

The project was developed by Preston City Council and Friends of Haslam Park. The work was mainly made possible through a grant from the Lancashire Environmental Fund, but also from; Preston City Council, The Harris Trust, and fundraising by Friends of Haslam Park.

Parents complained that the play equipment hadn't been cleaned or jetwashed

Mum-of-two Lorna Connors, from Ashton, was among those who had waited months for the park to finally reopen for her young children to enjoy.

She previously told the Post that she "couldn't see the difference" that the works had made, adding: "I feel like the council might as well have not bothered with it because they have done such a poor job of it."

And after she submitted a Freedom of Information request to the council asking for a breakdown of the external funding and costs spent on the play area, the council refused under Section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as it could "significantly disadvantage the council in future contract and procurement opportunities."

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Mum-of-two Lorna said that she 'didn't notice the difference' after the works were completed