Tensions run high over discussion of Wymondham play area’s future

Derek Ward at the Kings Head Meadow playground removal protest, Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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

A council's discussion about a controversial play area drew heated responses from residents.

Wymondham Town Council was due to discuss a Norfolk County Council report into the future of the play equipment on Kings Head Meadow.

But the meeting on Tuesday, which was attended by more than 30 members of the public and had an extended period of public participation, saw councillors bombarded by statements from frustrated and angry residents.

Derek Ward accused councillor Lee Hornby of telling 'an out and out lie' on BBC Radio Norfolk about sites being considered for the play area, which cost £75,000 to install.

Mr Ward said an offer had been made by Wymondham Town FC for the equipment to be located on its field.

He added that the council needed to 'get around the table and listen to people'.

Another resident labelled the council 'totally inept' and called for several resignations over the 'fiasco', including council chairman Joe Mooney.

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Mother Jo Baggs, who attended protests against the play equipment's removal in August with her children, said she and many other parents felt they were 'left with no other option'.

Amy Brooks, from Norfolk County Council, attended to answer questions about the report. She said the play area had caused a 'divide' in the community, but while understanding of residents' 'anger and frustration' she said it was time to move on.

'We are where we are, and for some people that is not a good place, but my job is to find a way to move forward.

'That will never happen if we do not get past some of the things that have happened.'

Both councillors and residents agreed that the county council report was fair and thorough.

Kevin Hurn praised its 'emphasis on young people', who Ms Brooks said had been an 'essential part of the report'.

Mr Mooney suggested a working party was set up to 'look into the options' from the report, including leaving the play equipment on Kings Head Meadow and improving security around it, or relocating it.

He said: 'We need to look forward now and try to find a solution to bring this issue to an end.'

Kevin Hurn said there was a need to identify the problems with the equipment's current location. 'Every time we talk about it the reasons why it needs to be moved seem to changed.'

The council agreed to establish a working party – made up of councillors, county council officers, residents and youth representatives – to consider options for the play area's future, including possible relocation to the football grounds.

Mr Hornby's offer to be on the working party drew shouts of protest from residents, many of whom believed he should have no part in future decisions about the play area.

The working party is expected to report back to the town council in January.

What are your thoughts on the Kings Head Meadow play area? Email anthony.carroll@archant.co.uk

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