Angry locals threaten to chain themselves to adventure playground railings in protest against cuts

Angry parents say they will chain themselves to railings around a much loved adventure play ground in protest at job losses and changes of equipment.

The campaigners from Wandsworth in London are unhappy at the loss of four jobs at Battersea adventure playground, which is to close for winter. Wooden kit made by staff over the years will be smashed down and replaced with new low-maintenance unsupervised equipment.

A spokesman for Wandsworth Against Cuts said: "We hope when the council sees the strength of feeling they will do an 11th-hour u-turn. Chaining ourselves to the railings has been discussed and shows how desperate people are to stop this."

The group added the Conservative council was setting aside £2m on so-called Boris Bikes, which it said mostly benefitted white males earning over £50,000. However it was pleading poverty when it came to adventure playground staff and school crossing patrols.

But the council said it was not replacing existing "hairy-scary, ramshackle" kit with dumbed-down low-risk equipment. The park, which always closes in winter, would be rigged up with £200,000 of rope ladders and climbing frames instead of DIY kit prone to splinter and break.

"The adventure playground at Battersea costs £250,000 a year to maintain," said a spokesman. "In the current economic state, and given that the children who go there are accompanied by adults, it is an unaffordable luxury."

He added: "This play ground is unusual in having staff on-hand. Most play grounds in London don’t, making this a historical anachronism. The old equipment was ad hoc: bits of wood nailed together in a way that wasn’t professional and was harder to maintain." 

He added that Wandsworth had to make £70m of cuts in the next three-and-a-half years. The park would not close for good, he insisted, but the "status quo" had to change. Plans last year to introduce a £2.50 entry fee were dropped after widespread opposition.

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