Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Safety concerns about new playgrounds in Victoria Park

This is about the new playgrounds in Victoria Park and the safety concerns identified by a large number of parents.

For more than a year large parts of the Park have been cordoned off as the Victoria Park Project swung (very slowly!) into action.  The project aims to regenerate the Park and its £12.4 million cost has been funded by the Council and via grants from the Big Lottery and Heritage Lottery funds.

Many families living in the Mile End area take their children to play in Victoria Park.  If you do you will find that:
  • the parks are expanded
  • there is a lot of exciting and challenging new play equipment
  • visually, the playspace looks very impressive.
At the same time you will find that parents are finding it very difficult to take their small children to the park - without becoming very stressed.  Some parents are characterising it as nightmarish!

This is because:
  • the playspaces have no fences - which means that it's incredibly easy for small children to get out  and dogs to get in
    • very small children are wandering - and running - out of the playground very easily at various points along its perimeter
    • large dogs run into the playspace frightening small children
    • dogs not on leads are using the playspace as a toilet - with particular problems being experienced in the sandpit area
  • the sightlines of parents are obscured in the V&A playspace due to the mounds and opaque play equipment.  Parents attending to one child cannot easily see if another child is still in the playspace or has wandered outside - towards the busy road which runs between the two parts of the park.  This problem would be much reduced if there was a fence which kept small children in the playspace.
  • there's not a lot of play equipment for the under 5s.
  • at the Pools Playground it appears there will be no barrier between the playground and the boating lake.  Children running down a slope and out of the playground will quickly run of space in which to stop themselves taking a tumble into the lake.
  • The regeneration failed to renovate the One O'Clock Club in an appropriate way.  The shelter has been deemed not fit for purpose.  Current plans are to relocate it OUT OF THE PARK!  
So £12.3 million has been spent on Victoria Park but the facilities for children are now no longer functional and safe for small children........

Victoria and Alexandra Playground, Victoria Park
Timber log boundary to new playspace in the West of Victoria Park
(next to the road, Hackney side of the Pavilion)
The Friends of Victoria Park have been listening for a while now to the concerns being expressed by parents on their Facebook Page (which is only accessible to those who have an account with Facebook).

The Friends (and parents) have now started an ONLINE PETITION - see Put fences around Victoria Park Playgrounds (click the link to access it)
Victoria Park has recently undergone a £12.3 million refurbishment including the expansion and renewal of its playgrounds.

The playgrounds should protect the health and welfare of small children from avoidable harm. However, the children's playgrounds have had fences removed and there are no current plans for their reinstatement. This now results in children under 5 being able to leave the playground easily and dogs defecating in the playgrounds.

We ask that LBTH fence the playgrounds in Victoria Park for the safety of the children that play there.
The aim is to present the petition to the Council on 18th March 2012.  What's needed is a cast iron guarantee that the problems caused by the lack of fencing will be addressed very quickly.

30 signatures by people who live or work in Tower Hamlets are required to be able to petition Council.  

So far the petition has collected nearly 90 signatures in 48 hours - with every indication that more with be forthcoming.  Lots of those signing are commenting about the problems they have experienced.

[UPDATE:  The petition now has over 350 signatures on it as at 19 February 2012]

DO READ THE COMMENTS BY PARENTS - these are important for explaining why parents are so concerned.

DO PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION if you think it's important that the Victoria Park playspaces should protect the safety of small children.

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