By Tristan Harris Wednesday 14 November 2012 Updated: 23/11 15:06
RESIDENTS in Catshill have hit out at Bromsgrove District Council, claiming a popular play area was shut down without warning or any consultation.
The authority confirmed to The Standard the Bracken Grove Play Area had been closed, citing a number of reasons for the move, including repeated vandalism of the equipment and anti-social behaviour.
But those living in the area claim a proper consultation was not carried out and the playground, which has been there for more than 50 years, was open one day and closed the next with not even any pre-notification or explanation.
One Bracken Grove resident said more than 70 families used the area.
And, she said, as well as her grandchildren, generations of youngsters had enjoyed playing there.
"Nobody around here was told that this was happening or why."
She admitted there had been anti-social behaviour there at different times throughout the years, but said it was no worse than anywhere else.
"Surely the thing to do in that situation is to tackle the anti-social behaviour.
"There's probably anti-social behaviour in Sanders Park, but they don't just close that - they tackle the anti-social behaviour."
John Godwin, Bromsgrove District Council's head of leisure and cultural services, claimed numerous complaints had been received from local residents and a review was carried out by the community safety team.
"This included a walkabout of the area in conjunction with the local policing team, during which we spoke to a number of local residents who expressed their concerns about the play area and their desire to have it closed down."
He claimed there were health and safety fears over broken equipment and it was in a poor location because of its proximity to local housing and the lines of sight meant it was difficult to inspect and police.
“In order to ensure the potential for injury was removed and to prevent any further instances of anti-social behaviour that were causing a nuisance to local residents, we consulted with local ward members and agreed to remove the equipment and close the play area down."
He concluded by pointing out there were alternative play areas nearby, including Catshill Meadow, Shelley Close play area and Lingfield Walk.
"We have invested over £170,000 into the Shelley Close and Lingfield Walk play areas over the past four years and the facilities are of the highest standard."
But, the resident said, the play area at Bracken Grove was perfect for toddlers living close by and the others, as well as not being suitable for them, were too far away for very small children to walk to.
She added that good, law-abiding people and their children were being punished for the heartless actions of the vandals.
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