A local parent and member of a campaign group which is protesting the closure of staffed facilities at two adventure playgrounds in Watford has convinced Watford Borough Council to rethink its plans.
Following a letter before action sent to the Council by law firm Leigh Day, who are acting for the parent, Leanne Johnson, the Council announced that it will review its decision about the future of Harebreaks and Hardwoods playgrounds.
Back in 2010, a consultation by the Council concluded that the adventure playgrounds were an integral part of the play service in the area, and showed that parents and users were very satisfied. However, only six years later the Council decided, without any proper consultation with those affected, to make staff redundant, demolish the existing facilities, and replace them with unstaffed playgrounds.
The Council will announce its new decision on 10 October 2016. The playgrounds are currently enjoyed by almost 2,500 children and young people aged five to 15 years old, who go there to enjoy a range of supervised play activities with staff.
Despite the Council’s announcement, there is still concern that it will not consult with the local community before demolition.
Leanne said: “I’m so delighted that there is now a chance the playgrounds may stay open. I grew up in the area and went to the playgrounds, where I could meet friends in a safe environment. My children really love going to Harebreaks after school, which will be particularly useful when I start evening classes at college this autumn. We enjoy going to the family days, which are only possible with the staff there to organise the activities. I really hope the staff can stay and the Council doesn’t bulldoze the site as my children will be distraught to lose the playgrounds.”
Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith added: “We welcome the Council’s decision to look at its decision afresh. It is clear that the Council ought to have consulted parents and users first. The local community had a legitimate expectation that the adventure playgrounds would remain open, unless there were good reasons to close them. As this was the case it should have been explained to them with an opportunity to share their views.”