A CONTROVERSIAL plan to rip out playground equipment across the district looks to have been shelved.
In March Kirklees Council outlined a £9.5m scheme which put 137 play areas at risk of having their swings, slides and climbing frames removed. A further 100 of the council’s 342 play areas were earmarked for a multi-million pound upgrade – but the plan provoked an angry response from parents and community leaders.
Officials categorised the 137 at-risk areas as ‘Doorstep Playable Spaces’. Old apparatus would be replaced with open play spaces and natural features like logs and boulders.
But following the public backlash a revised play strategy has been published ahead of a crucial meeting next week.
The document says: “The play area classifications (i.e. Doorstep, Community and Destination) have been removed to help understanding that all play spaces are remaining and there aren’t any pre-determined decisions made regarding their design.
“Sites will be refurbished on a case-by-case basis, in conjunction with the local community rather than applying a ‘one size fits all’ solution, and will take into consideration areas of deprivation, housing density, health inequalities and equipment’s physical condition and age.”
In an apparent u-turn, Coun Rob Walker – in charge of the policy, pictured left – said he wanted to make it clear “that the council will not be removing any play areas and will be working with the community to agree any changes.”
A Kirklees spokesman said: “If approved by Cabinet, the assessment of existing play areas and suggested changes will also be scrapped to make it clear that no decisions have been made. Coun Walker will also be recommending that the classification of play areas will be removed so there is no impression that some areas are more important than others, when in reality even small areas can have significant local value.”
Another consultation will start after local elections in the spring of 2020 – two years behind the originally-planned start date.