A POPULAR children’s playground that was due to be upgraded has been demolished, despite there not being enough funds to replace it yet.

The playground in Old Laund Street, Fence, was widely used by children in the area and a fundraising committee was set up 18 months ago to replace some of the aging equipment.

They needed to raise £74,000 for the modernised playground, but so far had only raised between £15,000 and £17,000.

However, on Thursday a sign was attached to the playground gate that read ‘This playground is closed until further notice.’ By Saturday, diggers were ripping up the playground, but there is no plan to immediately replace it, says an angry resident.

Kimberley Holgate, who lives in Old Laund Street, said she and her neighbours were not consulted about the decision and that her two children are devastated. She said: “They have ripped it up at the start of the school holidays and there’s nowhere else for children to play here.

“Nobody told us this was going to happen and there was nothing wrong with the park. All the children round here loved it.

“We went to a meeting last night about it, but all the parish councillors just said ‘it’s happened now, it’s history, get over it’, but it doesn’t make sense.

“It’s an eyesore now and they are just planning to fill it in with hardcore and leave it. It’s outrageous.”

Rebecca Hay, clerk to Old Laund Booth Parish Council, said: “The play area is on land leased to the parish council by Lancashire County Council. Every year we are obliged to have an inspection of the play equipment to ensure it is safe. For the last few years, inspections have left us replacing pieces of equipment because they do not meet safety standards.”

Mrs Hay said that the play area was no longer allowed to be used, but when asked if this was due to it not meeting safety standards, she said: “It was just costing us to replace bits all the time and I think we just realised it wasn’t worth it.”

Mrs Hay said residents were made aware of the decision to start groundworks via the Village Directory newsletter.

The fundraising committee, which is a separate body to the parish council, hopes to continue to raise funds to replace the park.