Back in the autumn of 2017 we stood shoulder to knee with the little people of Kirklees and had a good old PathWatch rant at The Kirklees Play Strategy What was particularly galling about the whole sordid report was the way this particular turd was polished up into a shiny positive thing by council managers intent on stealing the kids swings( FFS!)
So here we are in Spring 2019 and approval has been given by the Kirklees Cabinet members to…well… steal the kids swings and replace them with some soil and stones. The big idea is that the kids can use the soil and stones to have fulfilling imaginative play. Maybe they’ll imagine playing on the swings?
This of course is not just wrong on many levels but wrong on every level ever and wrong in every parallel universe that has,may or does exist. Arguably the councillors and managers that have dreamt up this little wheeze to save a few quid should have their homes,cars and phones confiscated and be left for eternity in a pile of soil and rocks to reflect.
In a sad but wonderful irony one of the 137 children’s playgrounds earmarked for swapping swings for muck and rocks is in Marsden . The community here raised £70k to equip the site which only opened in 2013. Now the £8k climbing frame and £4k rope swing, amongst other things, will be taken away and replaced by dirt and rocks.
The council seem to think this is all positive and wonderful as the equipment isn’t needed because the toddlers of Marsden can just imagine!
In another bittersweet irony a tory councillor ( The same tories who have throttled councils for a decade? Surely not? Ed) has started a petition to save the swings and for the sake of the small people it can be signed here
So what chance somewhere like Ramsden Road and it’s friends group or the wider public path network? Perhaps Kirklees will actually take it all away and suggest we all just imagine….
In the latest round of cuts our council has been given the particularly tricky turd of closing children’s playgrounds across Kirklees to put a shine on. That’s a tall order but the Council’s Play Strategy Report does a job Mr Sheen would be proud of.
Amongst other things it outlines how Kirklees has far more play areas when compared to neighbouring authorities (something that’s never been an issue in the past & surely a good thing?), how taking your toddlers to the swings isn’t really as good for them as opportunities to”play beyond enclosed areas” ( what? ) and of course beneath the turd polishing the truth that the council needs to sack staff who inspect and maintain play areas, shut the swings and seesaws to replace them with “wildplay” and volunteers from the “Friends of everything the council used to do” groups. There’s even a suggestion in this report that public rights of way might be used for “wild play” which I think might be a little bit too wild. Poor little mites would run the risk of being built over or blocked in by barbed wire and caravans.
When my kids were little going to the swings on a Saturday morning was an integral part of family life. Contrary to what is said in this report it is not a sterile experience on outdated equipment. Thankfully kids have something that bureaucrats have removed when they sign up – an imagination. So that swing or seesaw is a rocket, a boat, a horse or pretty much anything on any given visit. The whole playground world is not as it seems when you’re a child. That rusty metal work and soggy bark are a fantasy world of play and discovery.The hooped fencing so maligned in the report keeps the the dogs out so parents don’t need to polish those particular turds at home.
Thinking back to our many family visits to Victoria Park and Sands in Holmfirth along with dozens of other random swings and seesaws throughout the UK I could never have foreseen a time when any local council would be proposing closure of such facilities. Yet here I am in 2017 reading a report suggesting just this. The galling thing is that anyone would want to put any kind of turd polish on such a piss poor proposal. But there you go, that’s what elected members and senior council management think is an appropriate presentation of such an idea. It’s the classic “shit sandwich” approach of hiding something very unpalatable amongst bureaucratic smiles and big words.
So kids, parents and grandparents make the most of those last few trips to the swings. Store up the memories of happy, childhood play at the parks and playgrounds of Kirklees.
Soon they’ll be gone and you’ll be invited to play beyond these “enclosed areas” in a “wild play” puddle sponsored by Toys R Us or on a water filled tyre down some overgrown footpath kindly supplied by Kwik Fit. Terms & conditions apply. Puddles are subject to availability. Tyres only available in black.