District council set to spend £400,000 to improve Richmondshire’s play parks

The Shawl play area at Leyburn, which is being renovated.

Richmondshire District Council looks set to pump £400,000 into sweeping upgrades of playgrounds as part of its strategy to provide a healthy and safe environment for children following the pandemic.

Richmondshire District Council’s corporate board will next week consider using its council taxpayers reserve to fund overhauls at many of the 69 district, town and parish council-owned play parks across its area.

The move comes just days after the Government issued fresh lockdown easing advice, emphasising that playgrounds are a valuable community asset, as they provided “important physical, social, emotional and cognitive development opportunities for children”.

It has also highlighted that in addition to preparations to ensure playgrounds are Covid-19 Secure, following the pandemic there will be general maintenance requirements.

A report to the corporate board states safety inspections of play parks across the district had found the majority would benefit from improved conditions and upgrades in the level of play equipment.

Officers stated a recent review of district council-owned play parks had suggested each park would need an average investment of up to £15,000

The report states: “Based on condition and health and safety checks undertaken by the council on other play parks it is reasonable to assume that similar investment levels are needed in relation town and parish council-owned play parks.”

The authority’s leading members will consider investing £150,000 into the 25 play parks it owns and offering £250,000 of grants of up to £10,000 to town and parish councils and voluntary bodies on a first come, first served basis.

The authority’s chairman, Councillor Clive World, said while the funding represented a significant portion of the council’s budget, the improvements would be a positive move for the district’s young people.

He said: “This is very important now because of what has gone on in the last year.

“Children haven’t been able to or allowed to go to play areas. It gives them somewhere where they can both play and see their friends and that must be good.

“This will help all our communities, not just a select few.

“All the towns and villages which have a play area will be able to apply for a grant and bring the facilities right up to standard.

“I urge all town and parish councils to look at the facilities they have got and consider how they would like to see them improved.”