New Proposals for Elm Park and Chelsea Gardens Playgrounds

A local authority has said they are going to have local playgrounds in Parkside, Houghton Regis, refurbished. And there are new proposals for playgrounds at Chelsea Gardens and Elm Park Close. The admission comes in a Freedom of Information request by HRND editor, Alan Winter.

Children's playgrounds at Elm Park Close and Chelsea Gardens were once again put in the spotlight by ward CBC Parkside councillor Toni Ryan last week who said, “ I received a number of complaints from parents regarding two parks in Parkside that have been locked up for months, with children being unable to play in them.”

Playgrounds at Chelsea Gardens /Bromley Gardens and at Elm Park Close / Brentwood Close were in disrepair, seemingly uncared for and unwanted by the local authority. The legacy playgrounds were once operated by South Beds District Council; Central Bedfordshire inherited them. Two other playgrounds in Trident Drive are managed and maintained by CBC and the remainder in Houghton Regis are mostly owned and maintained by Houghton Regis Town Council.

In 2014, the Town Council considered taking on the management and maintenance of the 4 estate play areas at its Environment Committee meeting on 17th March, but resolved not to proceed with the devolvement to the Town Council of the 4 estate play sites.

HRND editor, Alan Winter, a former Parkside town councillor, said, "When the issue of the playgrounds was raised in Town Partnership meetings years ago, a CBC spokesperson at the time had mentioned they perhaps had money for a pot of paint, but that was all. They weren't prepared to put their hands in their pockets to bring them up to a better standard that would have been acceptable to the Town Council. Since then CBC has really let them go to the point where they seemed to be determined to decommission them. So I am delighted that the new Freedom of Information request claims they are doing something, but it's taking far too long. If they do bring them up to an acceptable standard then I hope that the Town Council will review their position and look to taking them onto its portfolio.”

"There's one more question that I need to ask, and every parent in Parkside needs an answer to, and that is, what is the outlook for awarding the procurement to get these improvements done? I fully support Cllr Ryan in her efforts to press CBC on this matter. As she has pointed out, 'these Parks are heavily relied upon especially over the summer holidays, and having children in Central Bedfordshire left without a Park for potentially 3/4 of a year is unacceptable'.”

Elm Park Close

The notice says "Have Fun in this play area ..."

... but the gates are locked 

The Freedom of Information Request in full.

With regard to the formerly run South Beds District Council playgrounds at Elm Park
Close/ Brentwood Gardens Close and Chelsea Gardens / Bromley Gardens, can you please tell me,
Q1. When [did] CBC decide[d] to no longer maintain them? Date and time of the meeting.

A1. Central Bedfordshire have not stopped maintaining Elm Park Close or Chelsea Gardens.
Inspection of play areas are conducted by RPII (Register of Play Inspectors International) registered Inspectors.
Inspections are conducted as recommended by BS EN1176- Playground equipment:

Routine Inspection
Conducted weekly by CBC RPII registered inspectors. The routine inspections primary function is to look at the basic condition of the equipment, identify faults or dangers arising from vandalism or breakage.

Operational Inspection
These are conducted quarterly by an independent playground inspector (Play Inspection Company). This type of inspection looks in more detail at the condition of the equipment; providing a quality control check on the more routine inspections and
identifying wear and tear on the equipment

Annual Inspection
An annual inspection is conducted by an independent playground inspector (Play Inspection Company). The annual inspections are designed to improve the play value of playgrounds and reduce accidents. A risk assessment of each site is conducted as part of the annual inspection.
The annual inspection differs from regular inspections in that it:
* Identifies long-term failures and work required
* Identifies changes in standard compliances
* Identifies areas where accidents are being noted which are not standard related
* Provides a quality control check for operators.
Repairs and maintenance are conducted as per inspections findings.


Q1a. Why have they not been maintained in the years since CBC took over?

A1a. As above

Q2. Whether or not CBC intends to bring them up to acceptable modern standards.
A2. Central Bedfordshire Council values that play is an essential part of every children's life and is vital for their development and is committed to providing safe, exciting/challenging play spaces. Play areas throughout CBC have been refurbished as identified through a refurbishment evaluation and schedule.
Elm Park Close and Chelsea Gardens are due for refurbishment during 2019/20 and are currently in the procurement process:

Proposal for Elm Park Close - for children 3 to 6 years of age
3+ pieces of play equipment suitable for this age group, offering a range of play activities which contribute to the overall play value of the site

Proposal for Chelsea Gardens - for children from 6 to 10 years of age 5+ pieces of play equipment suitable for this age group, offering a range of play activities which contribute to the overall play value of the site

Q3. What other playgrounds in Houghton Regis parish does CBC maintain?

A3. Central Bedfordshire also maintain two play areas in Trident Drive, one of which was refurbished in May 2019.

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