Wandsworth residents fight Battersea Park Adventure Playground changes


A defiant coalition of parents, teachers, residents and children vowed to fight on at a Wandsworth Council meeting last night.


By Jasmin Leitner

A defiant coalition of parents, teachers, residents and children vowed to fight on after their arguments fell on deaf ears at a Wandsworth Council meeting last night.

The group will continue to lobby against the council’s plans for Battersea Park Adventure Playground which would change the current equipment and make the site unstaffed as part of a series of cuts.

The Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee pushed the proposals through despite community representatives pleading with them not to.

Jane Eades, an organiser for the campaign, said: “They’re just a bunch of sheep, voting along party lines.”

Mother-of-three Elizabeth Oddono added: “I’m shocked at how the meeting went but this is not the end so watch this space.”

In the build-up to the meeting yesterday, community members gathered outside the town hall to support the speakers.

Among them were Year 8 and 9 pupils from Sacred Heart Primary School in Battersea, DC Scribbla and So Solid Crew’s Megaman.

Megaman said: “At the end of the day, if we take away the playgrounds we’re forcing them to be adults before their time.”

The committee heard deputations from Elizabeth Odonno as well as Bruce Mackenzie of Wandsworth Against Cuts and 14-year-old Carmen van-de-l’Isle.

They presented the Committee with a petition of more than 2000 signatures.

They argued the interaction between playground staff and children was vital in creating a safe and stimulating environment.

They are concerned that without permanent staff the site, which is seen as a second home for many vulnerable children from nearby housing estates, will be susceptible to gangs and crime.

Most committee members disagreed and argued that the staff were only needed because the equipment was not safe.

They believe that once the playground has been updated, the staff will no longer be needed to the same extent.

Cllr Sheila Boswell and Cllr Wendy Speck were in support of halting the proposals so that the council could consult more with the communities affected, but their amendments were voted against.

Speaking before the meeting she described the playground as an icon which was used by a cross-section of people and represented the diversity of Wandsworth.

A representative of London Play, a company offering to set up a play association which could run the site in place of council-employed staff, also spoke at the meeting.

Charity Kids Co have also expressed an interest in being involved according to the committee although they did not speak at the meeting.

The campaign has also covered adventure playgrounds at York Gardens and Kimber Road, which face similar cuts.

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