Oliver Letwin lends support to campaign to save popular Sherborne children's adventure playground

Courtesy of the Western Gazette

PARENTS in Sherborne have enlisted the help of West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin to help secure the future of a popular children's play area in the town.

The future of the adventure playground next to the skate park at Blackberry Lane was thrown into doubt last month after the town council decided to dismantle some of the equipment in a bid to cut costs.

Facilities at the unit are in need of replacement, and with refurbishment works likely to cost between £50,000 and £100,000, councillors argued that they did not have the budget to safeguard the playground's future having recently funded the construction of another play area off Ridgeway.

Mr Letwin met parents at the park on Saturday, and has promised to hold discussions with various parties in a bid to secure funding that will allow the equipment at the play area to be replaced.

He said: "I have had discussions with the town clerk and the town council and the plan is to look at various sources of funding so that the equipment can be replaced.

"The existing equipment is clearly not up to standard and is in need of repair, but there is a need for funding. The town council itself is willing to make a contribution and I will be discussing it with various people to see what can be done.

"It clearly is important that places like these remain open. This is a very sensible location, it's very popular, it's next to other facilities and there is an obvious need for it."

Parent Kevin Buckley added: "There is nothing else like this in Sherborne. There are other parks but they are more babyish than this one, which offers something for older kids to come along.

"These places are part of a kid's childhood. It's essential that they remain open and there isn't really anywhere else in Sherborne to build something like this.

"It would be nice for something to be done about it. This part of Sherborne is supposedly one of the most deprived in West Dorset so the kids need somewhere like this to go. For this to be taken away would be ridiculous and I can't see it costing that much either."

Last month, Sherborne town clerk Trevor Savage said: "I have had one letter to which I responded accordingly. If people would like to contact the council with their views on this issue then I would be happy to respond.

"The wooden structure had to be removed due to health and safety reasons and at this moment we do not have any plans to replace it.

"We just don't have the funds available to replace it after the construction of a new play area off the Ridgeway as part of the new Sherborne Cemetery extension which cost just under £100,000.

"We do put money aside each year into the play area reserve fund and this will help replenish the play area budget."