Volunteers help with new play area at Hickling Village Hall

CHILDREN in a Norfolk village have got their play area back thanks to the efforts of 30 volunteers who helped restore the facility.

Prime Minister David Cameron's Big Society vision was put into action in Hickling at the weekend as the volunteers, including children's parents, got to work with paint brushes restoring the play equipment, putting in loose chippings and erecting a new fence.

The play area on the corner of Mallard Way was moved in April to make way for the new �800,000 village hall and reopened at the start of the school holiday, before the new lick of paint was added.

But much of the original play equipment has been kept, including swings, climbing frames, benches and chutes, with the addition of the new equipment paid for with �6,000 of donations, including �2,500 from a fundraising event at the village's Greyhound Inn pub.

The refurbishment is part of the new village hall project, which is being organised by the Hickling Playing Field Charity.

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Nick Baker, a parish councillor and trustee of the charity, said: 'We are very happy to have the play area back and we are now improving it and today we have resurfaced it and erected a new fence and in October there will be a new hedge to go around the outside of the fence.'

However, the new hall has been at the centre of a bitter row after a report by approved council auditor Eric Lindo found serious failings in the way the project was handled, particularly when councillors failed to declare an interest while voting to draw down a loan to fund the project.

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Parish council chairman Sandra Clarke recently expressed her hope the council and village would be able to unite and move on to get the new hall built.

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