'Dated play parks need an upgrade'

The Oxford Times: Danielle Bamber, 21, Giovanna Pantenella, nine, Denise Domican, 10, and sister Ruby, 15 Buy this photo » Danielle Bamber, 21, Giovanna Pantenella, nine, Denise Domican, 10, and sister Ruby, 15

PARENTS and opposition councillors are calling for a review of Bicester’s “dated” children’s play parks to bring them in line with those in other towns.

They say play equipment in many parks is old-fashioned and tired, there are no outdoor water play facilities or children’s sandpits, and facilities lag behind other Oxfordshire towns including Banbury, Witney and Abingdon.

Bicester Town Council’s policy chairman James Porter said the town was a victim of “planning policy” that left the authority with 63 parks to maintain.

The council said it costs £200,000 a year to maintain sports pitches, pavilions, open spaces, natures areas and parks in Bicester – £45,000 was spent just on parks.

Previously the town council automatically took over the maintenance of parks from developers when housing estates were built, but new policy means it can be more selective.

The council also confirmed it had a “maximum” of four years’ of developer funding left to maintain parks and outdoor space.

Opposition councillors Les Sibley and Nick Cotter have urged the town council to take the lead on a review of parks, and seek grants and sponsorship to fund new facilities.

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Mr Sibley said: “When the budget is set each year we should have community projects where this type of proposal could be debated. We used to. But it has been about keeping the council tax down.

“We need a re-think of the sort of facilities we provide for young people and we need to move it forward.”

Residents support proposals to overhaul play areas.

Danielle Bamber, of Southwold, Bicester, said her family regularly travelled to Abingdon to use play facilities.

She said: “They are making the town better for older children with bowling and the cinema, but they are not doing anything for the younger ones. I think it’s appalling that there’s nothing here.”

Of Bicester’s main park area, Ruby Domican, 15, said: “It’s not a very interesting place to come to.

“If they made it more up to date (young) people would spend more time outdoors rather than on technology.”

Rosina Watts, 62, who was in Garth Park with her three grandchildren, recalled her grown-up daughter using the same equipment when she was small.

Mr Porter said any review could see some of the larger parks modernised and smaller areas closed.

He said: “It’s something we are trying to tackle. It’s already on the agenda.

“It’s one of those things where the town council is able to hopefully influence wider policy and provide better facilities in the future while undertaking a review of the current ones.”

Comments (4)

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11:37pm Fri 23 Aug 13

caversfield says...

little brats I remember enjoying that rocket as a kid too. what's stupid is the pathetically sized parks developers now build. go look at bure park. complete waste of money and who pays the insurance? well not me but you Bicester lot.
little brats I remember enjoying that rocket as a kid too. what's stupid is the pathetically sized parks developers now build. go look at bure park. complete waste of money and who pays the insurance? well not me but you Bicester lot. caversfield

6:41pm Sat 24 Aug 13

tired99 says...

BTC want to get rid of the smaller parks because they need to be maintained more not because it's better to have bigger parks. There are so many small parks because the gardens of the houses in the new estates are tinyl. Small parks are much safer for smaller children. Large parks tend to get taken over by underage drinkers.
BTC want to get rid of the smaller parks because they need to be maintained more not because it's better to have bigger parks. There are so many small parks because the gardens of the houses in the new estates are tinyl. Small parks are much safer for smaller children. Large parks tend to get taken over by underage drinkers. tired99

9:31am Tue 27 Aug 13

Nick Mawer says...

Can we have a serious debate here?
No authority can increase your council tax by more than 2% without triggering a referendum - even at Town Council level. Are you prepared to pay more in council tax to see the level of service improve? The opposition councillors have been part of the budget setting process for years - interesting to note that they can't identify any area of council expenditure to cut to move money to upgrading parks, nor can they identify any areas of waste where money might come from. Therefore the choice is either to find charities or other granting bodies to help improve play areas - something that it would be difficult to argue with - or to put up tax, if the tax payers of Bicester agree...
Can we have a serious debate here? No authority can increase your council tax by more than 2% without triggering a referendum - even at Town Council level. Are you prepared to pay more in council tax to see the level of service improve? The opposition councillors have been part of the budget setting process for years - interesting to note that they can't identify any area of council expenditure to cut to move money to upgrading parks, nor can they identify any areas of waste where money might come from. Therefore the choice is either to find charities or other granting bodies to help improve play areas - something that it would be difficult to argue with - or to put up tax, if the tax payers of Bicester agree... Nick Mawer

12:41pm Fri 30 Aug 13

tired99 says...

How about cutting the stipend for Councillors on BTC? Most other places in the England do this for free!
How about cutting the stipend for Councillors on BTC? Most other places in the England do this for free! tired99

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