2,000 sign petition to protect adventure playgrounds in Hemel Hempstead from council cuts
Thousands of people have signed an online petition in a bid to stop council cuts to adventure playgrounds.
The four playgrounds are a popular place for children aged six to 12 to visit in Hemel Hempstead.
But now the play parks in Adeyfield, Grovehill and Woodhall Farm, Chaulden and Bennetts End could see their opening hours reduced and some of the staff who look after them made redundant.
And that has angered local resident Simone Payne, who has started an online petition calling on Dacorum Borough Council to backtrack.
She writes: “The proposals will cut all deputy managers and only have two site managers, leaving four playgrounds under the supervision of just two managers and assistants.
“This will no doubt lead to the quality of service provided reducing, as there is no-one senior to concentrate on one playground as they have to divide their time between two.”
Dacorum Borough Council said a consultation with staff on the proposed changes has ‘just begun’ and that they were unable to comment on staffing numbers while this is ongoing.
As of today, more than 2,000 people had signed the petition started by Simone, whose mother Jean Robinson managed and worked at the playgrounds for 40 years.
Hannah Alston is a parent who has four children who use the playgrounds.
She told the Gazette: “Those who have spent all their lives looking after other families could just be cast aside. It’s not right. It’s also not safe, I can see there being a lot of safeguarding issues if there are only two people doing it.”
Other proposals include reducing the opening hours in three of the months during winters, and closing them to the public on Saturdays.
Simone added: “The playgrounds may be quieter over winter months but hundreds of children will still pass through the gates.”
A council spokesman added: “In February 2018, the council approved a package of reforms that will ensure our adventure playgrounds can continue to deliver high quality support while responding to the significant financial pressures facing the service.
“The current proposals would see a reduction in opening hours over the winter months as only 11 per cent of visits to the adventure playgrounds are made during this three month period.
“On Saturdays the playgrounds would be available for hire by community groups or used for both local and private events.
“Children under 8 years old will still be able to use the adventure playgrounds but would need to be supervised by an adult.”