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Council boss to tour Blackburn's vandalised playgrounds
8:00am Saturday 10th August 2013 in News
BOROUGH environment boss Jim Smith is to visit all vandalised playgrounds in Blackburn with Darwen and review officers’ advice to shut them because of the high cost of repair and security.
He spoke out as the council’s executive board learnt a fifth was now earmarked for closure after wreckers moved in.
Coun Smith promised to review each case carefully and look at replacing them with safe open spaces for youngsters to play.
Deputy Youth MP Jess Slater revealed that the Highercroft play area off Ermine Close had been hit by vandals and arsonists.
It joins four others in the borough already fenced off as too dangerous to play - at Bank Top on Nab Lane, Griffin Park and East Street Park in the Mill Hill ward, and Burnley Road play area in Whitebirk.
Coun Smith and council leisure chief Damian Talbot has described the vandalism of play areas as ‘a tragedy’ and warned that damage to equipment by thugs is putting the future of open spaces for the borough’s young under threat.
Miss Slater, from Shadsworth, revealed the Highercroft play area had seen equipment set on fire and wrecked by teenagers in recent weeks making it unfit for children to use.
Council leader Kate Hollern said: “This is disgraceful and unacceptable. If young adults and others are doing this they should identified, named, shamed and prosecuted.”
Coun Smith said: “I shall visit every playground under threat to see for myself before any final decisions on closure is made.
“Recently there has been a lot of selfish vandalism inflicted on some of our play areas throughout the borough.
“Due to government budget cuts we have been unable to replace unsafe equipment which has sadly forced us to close these play areas.
“This is highly unfair to those residents who regularly used and enjoyed them.
“I will be working with Miss Slater, who shares my frustration, and will soon be visiting play areas that suffer vandalism to find a solution that hopefully doesn’t result in permanent closure.
“I welcome possible ideas from residents on how we can find a solution to this problem together “Even removing unsafe equipment and leaving an open space for the borough’s children to ride their bikes or kick a ball around would be a welcome suggestion”.
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