So this evening I have sat at home in floods tears, I am ignoring yesterday’s positive, it is after midnight after all so technically another day.
My long documented playground saga came to an end at a council meeting this evening. When 6 households that back on to a play park successfully had their “living nightmare” ended as the town council voted 9:5 to rip out new, much needed play equipment installed at a cost of £75,000 less than 20 months ago scaling the park back down to when it was not a noise nuisance. Namely when there was half the amount of equipment on it so it went largely unused. I also heard this evening that noise bounces up off and over fencing into gardens, but that sound reducing fences weren’t an option, well why? I have sympathy for residents but there must have been other solutions or should children simply not be able to play in Towns anymore? I live where you can hear the playground noise of 3 schools, the foul language of teenagers at the high school being one of them, and hell if the wind is blowing right I can hear the football matches played locally, it’s a Town though! I live on a road used as a walkway into town and so remains lit at night when other streets nearby become dark so every weekend we hear noisy people returning home after a night out. It’s a town though.
In a council meeting that could have been a comedy sketch I witnessed Standing Orders (rules governing such matters) ripped apart and and Financial Rules and Regulations go the same way as I discovered that these are all apparently open to interpretation. So much like the reasonable adjustments clause of the Equality Act things open to interpretation pretty much mean those that want get and those that need miss out.
I was accused tonight of many things firstly setting up a petition that was biased and misleading. For the record I never set up an online petition I merely signed it and delivered it to the council. I have never met the creator of it and there were claims made tonight by the Mayor that cannot be substantiated that hundreds of people who signed it would not have done so had it been worded differently. I also heard it discredited because people who live outside of Wymondham signed it, so heaven forbid tourists trying to come here! My brother who lives 30 minutes down the road and takes me out there, well he shouldn’t have signed it, and as for the family the father of which grew up in Wymondham and has recently returned to the UK to live with his new family well he shouldn’t have signed it either.
Secondly I was accused of being misleading as I said the usage had decreased since Ketts Park had opened. A claim vehemently denied by the man pictured in the left of the picture in the link below, who told the room the sound survey conducted by SNC was done so when Ketts Park was open ending in October, when I tried saying Ketts Park didn’t open until August last year I was reminded Public Speaking was closed. The date of the article is the 11th of August if you do not want to open it!
My biggest issue though is that once again when I asked about disabled access to the equipment and how they would ensure disabled families were not disadvantaged in the summer my question again went unanswered.When I asked why despite it being mentioned every month for the past 5 months is there still no doorbell and signs up at the council offices (even more so when I heard this evening the clerk can spend up to 10k without even asking a Councillor), I got no response in the meeting! Heads up to the Councillor who spoke to me afterwards and said he’d get a bell even if he spent his own money doing so, shouldn’t have to come to that but hats off to you if you do!
So this play equipment will have cost in the region of £100,000 once the equipment is removed, relocated and so on and so forth. A fact that seemed immaterial to many of the decision makers in the room. I also stayed to the end unlike many others who left in disgust, I hope they all remember this when the next local elections come along……………Will the Town council engage with disabled people in the community to ensure they get the access right, I hope so
I witnessed a debate on whether a new estate of some 1250 homes should have street lighting, now that the Town Council are going to be responsible for the cost of maintaining and eventually replacing these. This was described by the man in the photo of the article above as an illegal cost shunting move by Norfolk County Council, I trust as a South Norfolk District Councillor he is vehemently campaigning against such an illegal move. I heard comments that people in villages and rural communities survive without lighting, and that it is an outrage that tax payers money should go on street lighting. No it isn’t, it is what money should go on, Wymondham isn’t a village, it is a Town. A town should have amenities such as play areas, street lights and so forth well I thought that’s why people buy homes in Towns to have facilities on your doorstep.
I know I am limited as to where I can live as despite this being the 21st century and despite there being rules and regulations in place housing developments do not build bungalows that can be easily adapted to make them disabled friendly, primarily because you could drive a bus through the loopholes in these regs like standing orders. Why build one bungalow when the the same plot can have three 3 storey town houses, all with the correct width doors and corridors for planning legislation only no room for a lift to all floors, and with wheelchairs at the lower end costing £500+ I certainly can’t afford one for each floor of said 3 storey home!
Time and again as a disabled person I seem to be holding the sh!tty end of the stick, I can tell you one thing that stick will never seem so big tomorrow morning. When my LG gets up and asks me if the park she knows daddy can safely get her too, and observe her playing in was saved and I have to tell her no. I have shed more tears this evening at the thought of this conversation than I care to remember. I have spent so much time invested in this and for what! Never have I been more saddened of my hometown, one I have many fond memories and firsts in!There are 2 saving graces in all this, firstly I did all that I could to try and save the play area (although I suspect my LG will understand that better at 23 than 3), and secondly I have made some new friends who like me care.
As to if or when I see disabled access to the other play areas in Wymondham I’ll let you all know, although I won’t be holding my breath.
Bring back the 19th Century and workhouses……………….