Play areas to be axed as local authorities target further cost savings

Two councils are ditching play equipment to save money while consolidating playgrounds in popular areas.

Maidstone Council is consulting on plans to invest £1.5m in 85 playgrounds but will remove 20 "not strategic" play areas if members of the public fail to take responsibility for them.

"If the community does not take over these play areas within one year, equipment will be removed and the area maintained as an open space for residents to enjoy. All residents living close to these parks will still be only a short walk from a 'good' park," said the council.

In Carlisle, the city council is removing equipment from 21 parks to save £25,000 a year in maintenance costs plus future capital spend. Instead, it has decided to invest £60,000 in the most popular areas and will add soft landscaping to the 21, following a review of the council's 69 play areas.

Portfolio holder for environment and transport Elsie Martlew said: "Due to substantial Government cuts, we need to make some tough budget decisions and have to make savings from a wide range of services."

She added that the equipment lined up to go is obsolete and said every child will have a high-quality play area within 500m of their home.

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