Parent power makes council find £60,000 for neglected Wells play area
The future could be looking up for children’s play areas in Wells after parent power saw tens of thousands of pounds released to refurbish a neglected city playground.
Years of not spending money collected from the taxpayer for the upkeep of special sites has meant that the money is now available for a refit and the play area on Bignal Rand Close will receive a £60,000 make-over.
A Mendip spokesperson said: "The money comes from the Special Expenses Rate. It has been accumulated over several years."
One local group hope that the play area at Bignal Rand Close will be the first of many such projects across the city.
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Mum and dad activists from Better Play Areas for Wells aim to persuade Mendip to improve outdoor facilities for the city's children.
Formed by Adrian Ballard, Kirstie Harris and Gillian Buzzard, the trio had a meeting with Mendip council officer Stuart Finney to see what could be done.
Gillian said: "We wouldn't like to take all the credit for this particular development as letters and petitions were signed before we were formed. But we have become a focus for this issue. We aim to show decision makers that this is an important issue to many people in Wells.
"The play areas in Wells look sad and unloved. Families are travelling outside of Wells to use play areas, which is a bit of an embarrassment.
"Mendip have been really positive, we're not trying to bash the council, we know money is tight. We're willing to raise money ourselves and galvanise support."
A Mendip spokesperson said: "Mendip District Council recognises the importance of investing in new play equipment in priority sites across the district and in Wells and process has been started with a refurbishment programme at Bignal Rand Close which is one of the priority play areas.
"Further investment will be guided by the play strategy which is due to be completed in the early summer. The council is pleased to know that the community group Better Play Areas for Wells is keen to support the provision of new equipment and we look forward to working in partnership with them.”
Better Play Areas have big plans for the centre of Wells too.
Gillian said: "We want a much better play area by the Bishop's Barn in Wells. We believe that if this became a 'destination' play area it would have benefits for the whole city. It would increase footfall as people would come to Wells to shop knowing they had something for the kids afterwards. It is a great space and hopefully it can be used better."
To get involved you can go to the group's Facebook page by searching for Better Play Areas for Wells.