Shelved Norfolk playground schemes given new lifeline

A dozen playground schemes which looked to have hit the buffers earlier this year when funding was put on hold have been giving a second lifeline.

Money pledged via the Playbuilder scheme, which provides community groups with money to revamp and create new play areas, was frozen in the run-up to the government's spending review.

It meant those behind 12 projects in Norfolk, which had been given �47,000 each just weeks prior to the announcement, were left with the heartbreaking job of telling hundreds of local children that their promised swings, slides and climbing frames were unlikely to appear.

Now they have a chance to get their plans underway once more after the government released �337,000 to Norfolk County Council to share between the affected schemes.

Ten projects in Aldborough and Thurgaton, Denton, Dickleborough, Mulbarton, Mundesley, Pointers Field, Refley, Tasburgh, Trowse and Woodton will now receive �27,500.

Only projects in Hilgay and Griston will keep their originally pledged �47,000 grant because they had already entered into contractual obligations before the funding was frozen.

All the groups must now aim to have their play areas complete by the end of March next year.

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Tony Young, a supporter of Recreation for All working to developer an ageing playground in Tasburgh, said despite the reduction in funding the group were 'astonished' to receive anything.

He said they were 'very optimistic' that they could deliver a version of their originally planned playground within the new budget.

'For Recreation for All it has been a bit of a rollercoaster from first thinking we had got �47,000 and then losing it and then being told we had �27,500. It's really kickstarted us again and put us on track, The group are really excited about it,' he said.

But Norwich City Council, which will use the funding to install play equipment at Pointers Field in Catton Grove, was concerned that its playground may not be completed in time for the Macrh deadline.

A spokesman said: 'In order to access the funding the government has stipulated that projects under the Playbuilders scheme must be complete and up and running by 31 March next year. This leaves us with an incredibly tight timeframe to draw up the landscape plans, consult with members of the public and to actually build the play area itself so it can be open by March.

'We're investigating all the options available to us to see if we can achieve all that's necessary so that the youngsters it's aimed at can enjoy it and benefit from it.'

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services at Norfolk County Council, said: 'I am thrilled that the government has been able to invest funding in this area. This is a welcome morale boost in these very difficult economic times.

'Although the funding has been reduced, our allocation is beyond what we could have expected and will be a significant boost to communities across the county.'