In the debate about moving the playground to the town side of Chippy, it may be worth recalling that this was originally proposed by the county council and that it was the town council who dismissed the idea.
The minuted reasons the town’s planning committee gave for rejecting the proposal in May 2014 were: ‘There is no proven researched need for a new play area; there is a potential loss of playing fields; reduction of green space; that it is a lot of money for little improvement; that the town council considers scattered play areas around town near to where children live are better than a single central one that people have to travel to and this policy is already being supported by the town council’s Drybridge Play Park and if approved the Osbaston Play Park as well; and the town council would support a refurbishment of the existing play facilities on Chippenham for £85,000.’
Mike Moran, the county official in charge, had earlier told the committee the county’s play sufficiency audit had identified a need for a play area fully accessible for children with disabilities.
I was concerned at the time about the town council’s decision. In a letter copied to all councillors in August 2014 I said “…I doubt if a single young mum has been consulted.” I did not receive a single reply or even an acknowledgement from any councillor.
Since then the town council has not only been deaf to the growing clamour of pleas for it to think again but councillors have on more than one occasion dismissed the campaign as ‘just a pressure group’. Only last week, one councillor said only 300 people out of a population of 11,000 wanted the playground moved.
We note that online petitions last year attracted over 500 in support, and a new one started last week petitioning the county council to support the move has already passed 300.
The final decision lies with the county council cabinet. Monmouth Civic Society urges them to stick to their original intent, guided by their own play audit and the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015. The move would be good for children, good for the town and good for Chippenham (which would not lose an inch of green space).
(Chairman, Monmouth Civic Society)