Temporary victory for Wymondham play park protesters as fences come down

Derek Ward, board member of Wymondham Football Club, at the Kings Head Meadow playground removal pro

Derek Ward, board member of Wymondham Football Club, at the Kings Head Meadow playground removal protest, Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Protesters campaigning against the the removal of play equipment at a play area at King's Head Meadow in Wymondham are celebrating a small victory today after fencing was removed.

Parents at wyondham play area today after fences taken down. Picture submitted.

Parents at wyondham play area today after fences taken down. Picture submitted. - Credit: Archant

Since Monday, an army of protesters made up of children, parents and grandparents has occupied the play park at King's Head Meadow, stopping contractors from accessing it to remove some of the play equipment.

Yesterday, Wymondham Town Council accepted an offer of mediation from Norfolk County Council. Work on the site has been suspended and contractors have removed fencing put up around the park, which was breached by the protesters.

But despite the protesters celebrating what they have called a small victory, they will continue to occupy the park today, over the weekend and beyond.

Pete Travis, one of the protest co-ordinators, said: 'The protest has been absolutely successful in what we wanted to do which is getting people round a table. We have stopped the immediate destruction of the play park. What we are hoping for now is a sensible and reasonable discussion so we can solve any problems there are.'

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The protesters are now looking into forming an action group to represent the views of mothers, children, teenagers and residents.

Councillor Lee Hornby said he hoped the suspension of the work would take the sting out of the situation and the mediation would help the council to move forward with its plans.

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In June, a majority of the town council voted to remove the new equipment which was installed in the play park at a cost of £75,000 in 2014. This was after complaints over noise and anti-social behaviour were made by some residents on Orchard Way, whose properties back on to the park.

Five councillors were opposed to the equipment being moved and three other sites on the King's Head Meadow were suggested for the equipment to be moved to.

A resident of Orchard Way, who did not wish to be named, said he was angry with the council for taking so long to take away the equipment.

He said: 'By delaying it like this the council are making it worse. It is annoying everybody.

'Moving the equipment to another site is going to create a problem for someone else. You get older children using the swings which it is not who they are meant for. It is their language and their noise.

'They [the council] are using our boundaries as their boundaries. If the fence is damaged, then who pays for it?

'We were out in the garden with my daughter and granddaughter and a big lump of wood came over. We have had a dead pigeon thrown over.'

Statement from the Extraordinary Eight, Dave Roberts, Neil Seach and all the Kings Head Meadow Activists

'At the start of the year it was decided amongst a group of like minded residents that we could not let the destruction and dismantling of a Wymondham Play Park happen based on the reasons we were given by the Town Council. We set about uncovering the truth, the deceptions and the collaborations.

'We formed a special group called the Extraordinary Eight, who behind the scenes have fought against the changes on the Kings Head Meadow Playscape. Alongside many residents, they have attended council meetings, wrote emails and letters and have had the support of some members of the Council in opposition.

'On day four of the KHM protests, we can finally celebrate a small victory. Through people co-operation, community spirit, determination of parents, children, the protestors in person and on social media, the wonderful teenagers who have played with the younger children, painted and supervised, the continuing support of the football club, local businesses and the support from some of our councillors, we have stopped the contractors entering our lovely playscape and tearing it apart.

This is an achievement we have managed this through working together.

'It is absolutely vital that we take this moment to thank and name as many businesses and special individuals as we can that have sent copious supplies to keep the supporters, children and activists going on long days and nights: Drinks, food, bubbles from Morrison's; hot drinks and waitress service from Coffee Inc; hot food from Woodbines Chippy; hot food from Ahmed Spice; hot food from Dominoes; doughnuts and drinks from Wymondham CO-OP; and snacks and drinks from Craig Barker at the Fairland Diner.

'Local residents' donations of snacks, crisps, biscuits, sweets and books, MDF, marker pens, gazebos, picnic blankets, bin bags, Norfolk Fire and Security for their open support. Individuals visits, support and praise on social media, have kept this campaign going and for that WE ALL THANK YOU.

'So with this achievement and as a direct result of all our hard work and wonderful protestors, the next step now is to create an Action Group, as requested by Norfolk County Council. We can now begin the process of finding a resolution and compromise of saving the Park's play equipment from total removal, storage or even damage.

'We collectively as a large group have chosen Dave Roberts to be the chair. He has done an outstanding job with his live feeds on Facebook, his press liaison and as a regular attendee at Council meetings to question the removal of the play equipment. He will over the next few days with the support of Neil Seach and others, be recruiting as the guidelines suggest the selected members of the Action Group.

'The Kings Head Meadow Play Scape Campers - as we have become on Day 4 – can now say on Day 5 that those fences have come down and this now can restart negotiations for the way forward.

'The first meeting is arranged, with a code of conduct to be discussed, with the councillors listening and looking at the compromises to be made to satisfy the complainants and that the people of Wymondham can enjoy the Park and children can play happily again on Kings Head Meadow Play Scape.

'Thank you again everyone, we have remained strong and a community, the people of Wymondham you are amazing.'

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