Picnic in the park planned in opposition to push to relocate Wymondham’s King’s Head Meadow Playscape
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
A 'picnic in the park' event is being organised for Good Friday as part of a community group's campaign to keep disputed play equipment where it is in the face of council efforts to have it removed.
The King's Head Meadow Playscape Group is planning the event, in part to keep the issue in the public eye while they wait for the findings of a Play England inspection to be announced.
Sharon Hastings, group secretary, said: 'We urge everyone who uses the park to get involved and come to the picnic, all are welcome.
'Our mayor is standing for re-election to the county council in May and we believe it is important to highlight how important local issues like this are handled by the town council.
'What happens in Wymondham is a reflection of what could happen at county level and the two need to be linked.
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'We are sending a clear message to the town council that we are not going away quietly.'
The event will start at midday and include an Easter bonnet competition with a 'Save our Park' theme for the children, a prize for the best-dressed boy and girl, an Easter gift for all children and a surprise appearance from a special guest with music and dancing.
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Kate Buckoke, group member, has organised a lunchtime get-together in the park for today - Friday, April 7 - for families to paint new signs highlighting the fight to keep the Playscape on the meadow.
Ms Buckoke said: 'From being here the last few days it's clear people think the park is safe and is staying put and it's all over.
'We need to get it out there again that is it not safe and still very much going on'.
Background to the King's Head Meadow issue
-While there has been play equipment at the King's Head Meadow site next to the back fences of some houses in Orchard Way for decades, a number of new pieces - together called the Playscape - were installed in 2014 at a cost of £75,000.
-Afterwards, some residents of Orchard Way started to complain that the Playscape was leading to excessive noise and anti-social behaviour - town mayor, Joe Mooney, said they had been made to feel like 'prisoners in their own homes'.
-At a town council meeting in February, 2016, a majority of councillors voted to move the equipment to the Browick Road recreation ground, elsewhere in the town, a move which was estimated to cost £60,000.
-Other residents, wanting the equipment to say where it was, started an online petition, which eventually attracted more than 1,000 signatures.
-It was then decided the equipment would go into storage until a more suitable location could be found.
-When contractors moved in August, 2016, they were blocked by protestors from getting onto the site to remove the equipment. The council tried to keep people out of the play area by putting up a high fence overnight, but part of this was simply moved aside and parents, children and other supports of the Playscape staying where it was staged a week-long sit in.
-Norfolk County Council stepped in and ran a series of public consultation sessions, and then set up a working group to try to find a solution. The group recommended, although not unanimously, to move the playscape to the Back Lane side of the meadow, next to the car park.
-The council agreed to have a representative from Play England visit to assess the proposed new site, as well as the rest of King's Head Meadow, for its suitability for a play area. The visit has now taken place, but the town council has yet to report on its findings or make a final decision about the future of the playscape equipment.