Proposed new site for Wymondham playscape causes controversy at meeting

Derek Ward at the Kings Head Meadow playground removal protest last year in Wymondham. Picture: DENI

Derek Ward at the Kings Head Meadow playground removal protest last year in Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The idea of moving controversial play equipment to the other side of Wymondham's King's Head Meadow sparked a hot debate at the town council meeting last night.

A working group's progress report was presented at the council's meeting at Central Hall last night.

The report said the group considered a site next to the Back Lane car park was 'the most viable option'.

But Derek Ward, board member of Wymondham Football Club, spoke against the proposal.

He said that site would mean the club would have to move its goal forward, would create issues with health and safety, traffic, and would cost too much.


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He said: 'The football club is not going to be bullied into something.'

Councillor Lee Hornby, who is on the working group, said it was one of three sites at the meadow that were put forward by the football club.

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He said 'We all agreed it was the most viable option for the working group.

'It's the only option which is not near any housing.

'Everything will have to be looked at by a professional body before it comes back to this council.'

But Mr Ward said the site next to the car park would be the least preferred by the club, and he wanted to see the equipment to stay where it was.

Speaking on behalf of the working group was Deborah Lee, outreach practitioner from the South Norfolk Early Help Family Focus Team.

Ms Lee set up a parallel working group of nine to 16-year-olds, and said these young people 'absolutely' wanted the playscape to remain at the meadow.

Ms Lee said: 'They wished all bits of the play equipment to remain.'

But Ms Lee said the young people agreed that something should change if people's lives were being affected.

Pete Green, who is also on the working group, said he wanted to emphasise that no decision had yet been made on the playscape's future, and said any suggestions or thoughts from members of the public should be put to the group.

Submissions can be made to the group's chairman, Amy Brooke, by calling 01508 533933 or by email to cs.wymondhamplaygroundconsultation@norfolk.gov.uk

The working group is due to meet again in private next Tuesday, and will present its final report to the council to the town council for a decision on March 7.

The story so far

Although there has been play equipment at the King's Head Meadow site for decades, new pieces forming what is called the 'playscape' were added at a cost of £75,000 in 2014.

However, complaints from residents of Orchard Way over noise and anti-social behaviour, led the town council to repeatedly debate its future last year.

A majority of councillors, led by mayor Joe Mooney, voted to remove the playscape and have it put into storage until a 'more suitable' site could be found, much to the dismay of many Wymondham residents.

When council contractors moved in to try to remove the playscape in August, residents and many children occupied the site.

A fence thrown up overnight was breached, and after a week the council backed down and agreed to a Norfolk County Council offer to mediate the dispute. Consultation sessions were held and the working group was formed to try to find a way forward.

But at last night's meeting, Mr Ward said no noise abatement notice had ever been made and 'the community' wanted the equipment to stay where it was. He challenged the Orchard Way residents to take the council to court if it wanted the situation to change.

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