Wandsworth Labour councillors are dismayed at the decision by the Wandsworth Tories to proceed with radically scaling down popular local adventure playgrounds, despite huge public opposition.
Despite a petition bearing over 4000 signatures, messages and pleas from hundreds of children themselves, and an offer from a renowned children’s charity to run the adventure playgrounds, the Tory council is refusing to listen.
All Council playworkers have now lost their jobs, the demolition of the play equipment at YorkGardens adventure playground has begun, and the destruction of Kimber Road playground and the removal of all the much loved play structures at BatterseaPark is imminent.
Cllr Sheila Boswell, Wandsworth Labour spokesperson for Children’s Services said:
“The Council have wilfully ignored the views of hundreds of residents in pressing ahead with the sacking of playworkers and the demolition of play structures, many built by youngsters themselves.
“Whilst a campaign by residents and the local community to stop the council charging children to play in Battersea Park Adventure Playground achieved some success, the compromise offered by the council – to keep access free of charge, but remove the imaginative adventure play equipment and sack the experienced on site playworkers – was always lacking.
“I was therefore delighted when I heard that Kids Company had offered to take over the running of all the borough’s adventure playgrounds, and crucially keep the on site playworkers and the adventure play equipment so enjoyed by local children. This seemed like a great way to meet the concerns of the many concerned local parents and park users who believe that all children should have the right to adventurous play, especially when living in an inner city environment.
“I’d hoped the council would give it its full support to this offer, but this does not appear to have happened. Instead, I was shocked to learn that demolition at York Gardens began with negotiations with Kids Company still ongoing.
“Questions have to be asked about why the council leader Ravi Govindia is scheduling meetings with Kids Company to discuss the future of the playgrounds, whilst Children’s Services lead Cllr Tracey is ordering in the bulldozers?”