Community in Whalley is left furious after council removes 'unsafe' equipment from popular children's park

Families in Whalley have been left upset and reacted angrily after council officials dismantled their much-loved woodland play park.

By Faiza Afzaal
Thursday, 11th March 2021, 7:33 am
The deserted park. Picture by Ian Lloyd
The deserted park. Picture by Ian Lloyd

Swings, climbing frames and a slide were among the "unsafe" items taken away by Ribble Valley Borough Council on Tuesday morning from the popular play area, which is situated near Calderstones Park.

Now all that remains at the deserted place is bits of broken wood, a noticeboard and a bin.

However, council bosses have since assured residents that brand new equipment should be installed in the summer months for families to enjoy.

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Whalley Woodland Park before play equipment was removed. Picture by RVBC

Parents have described the removal of the equipment as "sickening" and are very upset by the loss of their community facility. A campaign has now been launched to reinstall Whalley Moor Playground.

Donna Parkinson, who lives in the area, said: "I walk through here every morning. The park was still there at 11am on Monday, but at 9-30am on Tuesday it was gone. There was no notice given before the council workmen removed the play equipment. The kids around here are gutted. They have already had enough disappointment during the past year without having to deal with this!"

Also dismayed by the council's decision is Ali Rouncefield-Swales. In a Facebook post, she said: "Our beloved children's playground on Whalley Moor has been removed by the council as it was deemed unsafe. There was no communication with any residents regarding safety concerns or immediate removal. At a time when children need to reconnect and recover, the removal of a safe play space with little consideration of the impact is appalling."

Another parent said: "That's terrible. My kids grew up playing on that park. It was always such an adventure."

The £125,000 woodland park was opened in 2010 and was led by the Friends of Whalley Moor Woodland and funded by the National Lottery, Groundwork Pennine Lancashire, Lancashire County Council and the borough council.

Responding to the concerns expressed, Ricky Newmark, chairman of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s community services committee, said: “During a routine inspection of the Whalley Woodland Play Area, it came to light that timber making up the equipment had split at a number of fastening points.

“Our top priority is always the safety of children and we responded swiftly, as any failure of the equipment could have caused serious injury.

“Options for replacing the equipment are already being looked at, but with many businesses on furlough this process is taking longer than normal.

“We would like to reassure users of the play area that the removal of the equipment is temporary and it will be replaced as soon as a suitable supplier is found.”

Whalley Nethertown ward councillor David Berryman, added: "I will be working as hard as possible to replace the equipment. I hope by the middle of summer brand new play equipment will be installed at the site for families to enjoy."