Playgrounds in Norwich to stay shut, but parents unhappy at council’s decision

Playgrounds like this one in Eaton Park will remain shut. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Playgrounds like this one in Eaton Park will remain shut. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

Playgrounds in Norwich will stay closed, council bosses have announced, despite the government giving the green light for children to be able to use them again.

Matthew Packer, Labour city councillor. Pic: Labour Party.

Matthew Packer, Labour city councillor. Pic: Labour Party. - Credit: Labour Party

While the government said playgrounds, which have been shut since coronavirus lockdown was introduced in March, could reopen from Saturday, Norwich City Council has decided to keep those, and outdoor gyms, shut for the time being.

Council leaders say that keeping the playgrounds shut is “the most responsible course of action” to help prevent a spike in coronavirus cases from happening.

They say they will review the decision in two weeks, but that, for now, the gates in play areas such as in Eaton Park, Waterloo Park, Wensum Park and Sloughbottom Park, will remain locked.

Matthew Packer, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Norwich City Council said: “It has not been an easy decision to keep these well-loved facilities closed – and as a father of three children under seven, I know how much this will come as a disappointment to many parents and kids.

“Our over-riding consideration, however, has to be for the safety, health and wellbeing of all people in the city. The government has said that these facilities can be opened if ‘regular cleaning’ regimes are put in place.

“It has not, however, been specific about what this might involve and with 1,700 pieces of equipment across 81 playgrounds, taking a detailed review and implementing, if necessary, large scale changes at short notice will take time and planning.

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“By keeping playgrounds closed, we are doing what we can to prevent a spike from occurring, which we feel is the most responsible course of action for the people of Norwich.

“We will not hesitate to re-open any facilities that people love and rely so much on using when we’re confident this can be done in a safe way.”

However, the move has attracted criticism. One mother said: “As a parent who is watching, first hand, the affect this lockdown is having on our kids, to be told they won’t be getting any more schooling this year was a blow, but now the refusal to follow government guidelines and to give the children a small slice of normality I just find inconceivable.”

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