Dewsbury play area ruling sparks anger

A TIGHTENING of rules at a Dewsbury play area sparked upset when families with young children were excluded.

Some youngsters were in tears after being told they could no longer use the adventure playground in Crow Nest Park. Instead, they were directed to their own play area nearby.

Staff took action after more than 600 people flocked to the facility in one day during the recent hot spell.

“People were sunbathing and having picnics,” said community sports officer Sarah Goldsmith, who supervises the Kirklees Council-run site. “We simply couldn’t do what we are here to do.”

Now, a notice has been put at the playground gate making it clear the area is for eight to 12-year-olds only – partly for insurance purposes.

Ms Goldsmith said the newly-opened adventure playground was always designed for eight to 12-year-olds, though under-eights had been allowed in at first ‘to test the popularity of the facility’.

“We wanted to welcome everyone and see how things went,” she said.

“During the recent hot weather, we had been letting all ages in. But on one very hot day, 600 people came through the gates and there were only three members of staff to manage all that. People were sunbathing and picnicking as if it was the park itself.”

For safety reasons, staff sign everyone in and this added to the problem.

Ms Goldsmith said: “We try to do activities with the over-eights such as woodwork, crafts and fire-lighting, but we didn’t get a chance as there were too many toddlers around. It was not sustainable because of all the risks.”

A new policy of allowing in under-eights for 30 minutes was put into operation. “But that didn’t really work out,” said Ms Goldsmith, who works for Kirklees young peoples’ service.

“We did have to turn people away and tried to do this in a reasonable way,” said Ms Goldsmith. “There were some tears, but mainly, people took it well although some adults were worse than the kids.”