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Breckland blamed for state of Thetford play areas

PUBLISHED: 09:43 05 July 2012

Play areas in Thetford are in a poor state of repair because of a continued lack of care by Breckland Council, it has been claimed.

Thetford town councillors spoke out in criticism at the way they had been run in recent years, amid discussions to hand responsibility for them to the parish.

They also argued the play areas were not of an acceptable standard and would cost a considerable amount to bring up to scratch.

Speaking in front of Breckland Council’s executive member for assets and strategic development, Mark Kiddle-Morris, at a meeting last week,castle ward councillor, Corinne fulford, said she and acting town clerk Susan Glossop had recently visited the play areas with Breckland Council officers.

“Our group came to the conclusion they were woefully inadequate,” she said. “What we’ve seen is the running down of the play areas when they’ve been under your [Breckland] control so why would we take them on in their current state?”

Thetford mayor Terry Lamb added: “Many of them are not very good and they’ve been run down very badly. We’re not against operating them but we don’t want to spend a lot of money doing them up.

“We have nine play areas and all are in desperate need of care and attention.”

Mr Kiddle-Morris said all play areas were inspected weekly under a contract with Serco, and encouraged councillors to write down their grievances for consideration by Breckland.

“I’m prepared to take a wish-list back and price it and see what we can do,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say we’re keen to put things in local control and we do have a match-funding application system and the town council could put in for areas which don’t have play equipment in them.”

The decision to take over the running of eight play parks, including those in Pine Close, Edinburgh Way and Canons Walk, was taken last year. A one-off payment of £174,270 had previously been made by Breckland as part of the agreement, but it was decided by the town council this was not enough for their upkeep.

Speaking at last night’s meeting, guildhall ward member John Harding said: “We’ve got to remember the youth. If we don’t sort this out quickly amongst ourselves it’s not for us to moan and groan about the youth getting up to mischief.”

Saxon ward member, Stuart Wright, said he believed Thetford was being “sold down the river.”

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