Saga of Thetford’s neglected play areas could be almost over
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015
A four year saga which has left Thetford's play areas in a sorry state could be at an end as two councils near agreement over the handover of 11 spaces.
Thetford Town Council and Breckland Council have been locked in negotiations over the handover of the play areas since 2011, when the district authority first made the move to offload them.
It was thought a deal had been struck in November 2013, when it was agreed that Breckland would also hand over £230,000 to help with maintenance and improvements.
But, nearly two years on, the play areas are still in Breckland's ownership.
The delay has led to several of the areas falling into disrepair, with Breckland removing damaged equipment rather than fixing it. Several have seen swings and other equipment removed entirely, while much is covered in graffiti.
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Once the handover is completed, groups in each community will have the chance to raise funds to improve the rundown areas.
Groups on the Redcastle, Abbey and Croxton Road estates will be given £10,000 by the town council to start the process.
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Brenda Canham, chairman of the town council's amenities committee, said: 'It's appalling the way that the play areas have been left for years.
'When they are handed over, we want the community to be involved in deciding how they are improved, and it's really up to them how they spend the money.'
The Redcastle Action Group has also raised nearly £5,000 to contribute to improvements, with around £50,000 needed to fully upgrade the play area.
It is hoped the groups can use the cash as seed money to attract further match funding.
Thetford Town Council will maintain the areas, which include three extra spaces in addition to the eight which were originally up for handover in 2011.
The three sites are on the Richard Easten estate, and currently sit empty.
The deal for the play areas was expected to be completed earlier this month, but was delayed further after a disagreement over the boundaries of a number of the spaces.
A spokesman for Breckland Council said no one was available to comment on the play areas.
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