As I prepare my brief speech to deliver to Wymondham Town Council I attempted to gather some more evidence today as to the importance for my argument to use these “reserve” funds that they have found not to move the play equipment that is already well established (the field has been a designated green field for over 130 years and an actual playground on the park has been in place since at least the 1980’s when I grew up as a child in Wymodham) but to put right the mistakes they made when putting the play area in at Ketts Park. Unfortunately due to the condition of the park I was not able to do this so my mum and dad very kindly took time out of their day to go and take some photos for me – this evening I then had to talk a technophobe through attaching the said photographs to an email and forwarding them to me, bless her she was copying the photos clicking the attachment button and then trying to paste the photos in to this. I have to say it is probably the millionth time I have talked mum through this (ok maybe I exaggerate a little bit) but I guess when I reach her age my mind will have so much stuff in it, it will have to pick and choose what to retain. You know I love you mum and I say this in jest for my blog!
The biggest issue with Ketts Park itself is the very poor drainage of the land, something that the council knew long before installing the equipment because several football clubs have had issues over the years (one I used to be secretary of included in this). This is an issue they had acknowledged themselves as the following signs have been up around the building for years now
Poor drainage obviously increases the need for there to be an adequate path into the play area itself as you can imagine anywhere with very poor drainage and frequent footfall soon resembles a field from Glastonbury after one downpour, these are a few images my mum took today leading towards across the park and into the play area
Then we come to the play area itself, and with poor drainage and no paving inside the issues continue, with once again the main walkways between the play equipment and benches having the same issues as the path leading into with the added bonus of some full on water features that I am sure were never in the original plans. Furthermore though around the play equipment itself the ground is a swamp that I am sure Shrek and Fiona would be proud of. Now I would like to note here that I am not against kids having fun, being one of six boys growing up most of which played football and me as a goalkeeper I am not unaccustomed to being covered in mud. Getting on some old clothes and wheelies and making some mud pies I am all for it, sliding around in mud and getting filthy, again I am all for that sort of fun, a play area becoming dangerous because disabled parents, or parents with younger children in pushchairs cannot get into the play area and properly supervise their children – not cool. Play equipment caked in wet slippery, slimy mud – again not safe! Puddles deep enough for a child to fall over in and drown in – VERY unsafe. I kid you not take a look at these shots
From these photos you can see the concerns I had about the play area becoming inaccessible to disabled users very quickly, less than a year in place, in fact less than 6 months in and this is the state of the park, now I know we have had some periods of high rainfall in January but the last week hasn’t been too bad in Wymondham and still the puddles haven’t subsided.
Saving the best for last, I did commend the town council for putting in some disabled friendly equipment around the play area, but I explained to them that many of the disabled children playing on the equipment would want the freedom to move around independently from one piece of equipment to the next with their friends. The last two images are of two of the pieces of adapted equipment one a roundabout that has space for a wheelchair to be placed in the middle and have the brakes applied so they can spin around with their mates. The second is one of several pieces around the outside of the play area fixed on to the railings games like O’s & X’s and such like
I hope these images help you all understand why it is so important to me that I fight the council on this, if someone doesn’t make a stand the world gets away with continuing to discriminate against disabled people and quite simply this should not be happening in the 21st century. It isn’t just disabled people in wheelchairs that would benefit, those with walking would benefit, blind and partially sighted parents would be able to use the park without increased slip hazards and returning home with a very dirty guide dog and so on, furthermore parents with a child in pushchair could still take an older sibling if a path was provided the opportunities go on and on…………………..Watch this space for an update after the council meeting on Tuesday.