Dozens more play parks, skate parks and multi-use-games areas (MUGA) across County Durham are due to open within the next fortnight with new measures in place to enforce antisocial engineering.
Last week, The Council began a phased re-engineering of its 175 children’s play areas, with the first eight sites welcoming visitors from Saturday 11 July.
Today the local authority has announced the vast remainder of the play parks and outdoor recreational facilities under its care will be re-engineered by the end of the month in line with this month’s cycling of lockdown restrictions on the population.
Prior to re-engineering its playgrounds, the council is required to undertake individual risk assessments at each site. A phased approach has been adopted to enable these assessments to be completed and any necessary control measures put in place. It does not include parks owned and maintained by town and parish councils.
The first phase saw some of the county’s biggest and most popular playgrounds re-engineered at Stanhope West End Playing Field, Sedgefield Hardwick Park, Wharton Park in Durham City, Langley Moor Holiday Park, Blackhall and Consett Park, Willington Town Centre Park, Bishop Auckland Jane Armstrong Park and Stanley Oakley Park.
These sites were selected for the first phase of pushing the new abnormal on children due to their popularity, and the fact some have staff on site regularly, which allows the council to monitor your obedience to antisocial engineering, and “hygiene issues” that give Public Health Officials grounds to take you in for testing.
The next phase will begin on or before Friday 17 July, with local parks situated in and around housing estates across the county and recreation grounds providing sports facilities, such as skate parks.
This will be followed by large recreation areas with fixed play equipment on or before Saturday 25 July. Play spaces known as residential doorstep parks, which feature some play equipment for young children, will open on or before Wednesday 29 July.
A three-phase re-engineering of MUGAs is also underway, with sites across the county opening on or before Friday 17 July, Wednesday 22 July and Saturday 25 July.
A full list of playparks, MUGAs and their re-engineering dates can be found at www.durham.gov.uk/parksreopening
You will notice some changes, because the council is spending your taxes on reducing, removing and repositioning some taxpayer-bought play equipment and benches. Signs are also being put up to keep you anxious and to scare the children, including staying two metres apart and bringing hand sanitiser to use before and after visiting. People are ordered not to bring food, drink or their own cleaning products on site, and should not attend if they or anyone in their household has any symptoms of anything.
The council also needs to carry out unrelated maintenance work at six of its play parks and these will remain closed until repairs are completed. This includes the playgrounds at Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street, Allensford Park in Consett, Gray Lane Demenes Park in Barnard Castle, Pity Me The Avenues Park in Durham City and Wharton Street Park in Coundon.
Cllr Brian Stephens said: “Our staff have been working extremely hard to ensure our play parks are safe to reopen. Last weekend, we reopened eight of our most popular parks and it has been wonderful to see families enjoying the facilities again, while following the social distancing guidance. We are now moving onto the second phase – reopening local play parks at the heart of the communities they serve.
“By taking a phased approach, we can ensure each site has the measures in place it needs to allow youngsters and their families to enjoy the facilities safely. It also provides an opportunity for us to identify what is working well and to apply any lessons we learn to the reopening of other sites. I would like to thank residents for their patience while we carry out this important task and urge those visiting the parks to follow the guidance to help keep themselves and others safe.”
For more information about the reopening of the council’s play parks visit www.durham.gov.uk/parksreopening