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Local families have very much missed using a local play park, over the prolonged period in which the construction work at Leyton Jubilee Park has taken place. Local families and child-minders have been extremely excited in anticipation of a new, improved play park being built. Under the Olympic spotlight, we were promised great things. The Olympics are over and the results are disappointing. The play park is finally complete but lacks many of the features our children want and there are many concerns. The main issues that local parents and child-minders have with Jubilee Park are:
· The concept behind the new play areas in Jubilee Park, promotes ‘imaginative play’. They are fully compliant with the latest Play England guidance on natural play, which encourages children to play in a less prescriptive, more creative basis than traditional play features. Natural Play has been promoted by Play England in its 2006 report Play Naturally as well by London Play and Natural England in the 2010 programme "Natural Play Invader". Both reports recognise the importance of natural play in the health and well being of children and in the reconnection of children to their local green spaces.
Being that ‘imaginative play’ is already actively encouraged in schools, pre-school and in many homes, ‘imaginative play’ is not the reason we visit our local park and is not what many of us want the main focus of Jubilee Park to be. Especially when it is at the expense of traditional play features, such as swings, slides, a roundabout, a see-saw and climbing frames. What was a functioning children’s play area (though in grave need of improvement), has been replaced by a few unimpressive and impractical features. Also, if the play ethos was to be altered so dramatically, why was there no public consultation before proceeding with the design process?
· Allegedly, the new park which has been built, differs somewhat from the first plans for it. The original design apparently included more traditional play features such as swings, a roundabout and slides. If the plans were altered and reduced so noticeably, locals would like to know why? If anyone has further information regarding this, please comment when signing this petition.
· The age range reflected in the younger children's play area is apparently identical to that of the old play area (0 – 7 years), however most of the new features are rope-based and require further advanced balance skills. The old play area comprised of solid, fixed play features. Young children who struggle with the majority of the new ‘wood and rope’ features, experienced no problems (when younger) utilsing the old equipment.
· There is one, low-level basket-style swing in the new 0 – 7 years play area. On the park’s opening day, it was surrounded by many children, all eagerly awaiting their turn. Thus creating a hazard with some of the less patient children pushing, shoving and jumping on mid-swing. There were no more children present than on a busy Summers day. With a swing being in such great demand, this will continue to be an on-going problem.
· Local families and child-minders who used the previous park regularly, have expressed their disappointment with Jubilee park and their intention to use alternative parks instead. Such as Leyton Manor park, Skeltons Lane park and Abbots park. Unfortunately, the prospect of a longer journey (especially if there are time constraints) may discourage carers and result in less frequent visits to parks for their children over all.
· The two play areas (0 – 7 years and 8 years+) are situated quite a distance from each other, making it impossible for carers to watch children of different ages in both areas, simultaneously. This will encourage a visit to each area in turn, with their children of multiple ages. Older children will disturb younger play activity and younger children will play on equipment which is not age appropriate and may lead to accidents. In the short time the park has been open, the 0 – 7 area has few (if any) children playing on it, whilst the children it was intended for, use the ‘traditional play features’ in the 8 + area. This is evidence of what our children really want.
· The 8 + area has apparently been designed for older children who would not normally require parental supervision. This begs the question of how many parents would actually leave their 8 year old unsupervised?
· The new play apparatus is of course compliant with safety guidelines; however when the wood gets very wet, they become a slippery hazard. The ground beneath in wet weather is mud. Carers do not want their children to be covered in mud every time they visit a local playground.
· The new landscape design comprises of grass hills and troughs. With a prevailing wind, they collect leaves and rubbish. It looks terrible and discourages parents from allowing their children to play in them.
· The play areas are not fenced off as the former play park was, which make them susceptible to dogs fouling in the areas where our children play. Being that all of the ground beneath the play features is grass (as opposed to a spongy, safety playground surface) and therefore attractive to dogs, this is a health hazard. Worse still, dangerous dogs off their leads, can enter the play area.
A basic, helpful
feature would be a footpath from the pavilion, across the field, to the Marsh
Lane park exit. The foot traffic across that field has worn the grass out
for years, a hint to the designer/landscapers, of how the space is used. On Google maps, there is a pathway indicated.
As a local Parent, Grandparent, Guardian or Child-minder; How do YOU feel? Do you think the new play park meets your family’s needs? Waltham Forest council believe the play value of the new park exceeds that of the old play area, what are your thoughts on this?
Please comment! We need to let the council know how we feel, in the hope that improvements can be made. This park is SO important to us and as it stands, it is simply NOT good enough. Lets pull together and make positive change.