Playground row breaks out over rapidly failing equipment
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A councillor has claimed that play equipment in a park is failing quicker than it should – prompting a firm response from a cabinet member, who said it didn’t last forever and that his administration was investing more in play areas than any other council in Wales.
Cllr Peter May said a wooden swing had to be removed from Cwmdonkin Park, Uplands, last week because of a rotten main joint, and that trampoline springs which were replaced fours ago failed in June but couldn’t be replaced again until October.
“We are right in the middle of the summer holidays and facilities for the children have been seriously diminished in this play area if you take into account the failed trampoline too,” said the Uplands Party leader.
In his view, safety inspections at the park ought to have picked up these defects.
He also questioned the sufficiency of manufacturers’ guarantees.
Cllr May said the play equipment was first installed 10 years ago by the council, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
He said Uplands councillors had contributed £400 from their community budget towards the first set of replacement trampoline springs in 2018. There is also a climbing frame, roundabout swing and slide at the park.
Out of action
He said he was “fully supportive” of the Labour-run council’s investment in play areas, and that Victoria Park and Brynmill Park – also in Uplands – were benefiting from it.
But he added: “Stuff should not fail this quickly. What sort of safeguards have we got from manufacturers?”
He also claimed that Cwmdonkin Park’s green category in terms of safety inspection status – based on a 2020 rating – meant it wasn’t allocated money as part of the Swansea-wide play investment scheme.
The council said play equipment in all parks was checked every six months, and that trampoline swings were regularly replaced as part of general maintenance.
It said it was in discussions with the manufacturers of the failed Cwmdonkin Park swing, and that councillors could contribute money from their £15,000 per year community budget to park upgrades, including ones with a green status.
It added that the trampoline at Cwmdonkin would be out of action until October for supplier reasons.
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “We have a statutory obligation to check play equipment every six months, which we do. If it’s broken, it gets taken out. Equipment does not last forever.
“I know Cwmdonkin Park well. It is one of the better-used play areas.”
He said the council’s playground investment in Swansea focused on those with a red and amber safety inspection status and would be worth £5 million by the end of the year, including a £500,000 maintenance fund. “We have done 40-odd playgrounds,” he said.
Cllr Francis-Davies said he thought this level of investment could be the best for a council in Britain and was “certainly” so for Wales.
He said the previous administration to Labour – led by the Liberal Democrats, which Cllr May used to represent – hadn’t invested in playgrounds.
He added that Cwmdonkin Park may need some investment – and that Cllr May could bid for a share of a pot of council cash called the economic recovery fund for this purpose.
Cllr Francis-Davies added: “I’ve never heard Peter May asking for play equipment.”
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