Unhealthy spot for new park gym

The outdoor gym equipment, placed on the edge of the Alexandra Park

The outdoor gym equipment, placed on the edge of the Alexandra Park

Councillors and residents are demanding an outdoor gym in a Wigan park is moved following a spate of anti-social behaviour problems.

Representatives for Douglas ward say the new equipment installed in Alexandra Park in Newtown is in the wrong place and has become a magnet for youths causing trouble.

The plan for the gym was on the grapevine and the next thing we knew it suddenly arrived

Coun Shirley Dewhurst

Residents on Victoria Street, whose homes face the gym, have also spoken out after seeing groups of people drinking, damaging fences put up around the equipment and causing children using the nearby play area to feel intimidated.

The equipment was installed around a fortnight ago but the problems for those living nearby began last weekend.

Councillors say they are not opposed to the equipment being placed in the park but Wigan Council officers need to work with them to find a more appropriate location.

Coun Shirley Dewhurst said: “The plan for the gym was on the grapevine and the next thing we knew it suddenly arrived.

“Residents contacted us to say there were workmen in the park.

“But they didn’t feel there had been a consultation about it and said there would be anti-social behaviour.

“There have been problems and over the weekend it was horrendous.

“There were youths drinking, swearing and causing aggravation. They also pulled the fence around the equipment down.

“It’s also right next to the children’s play area and apparently two little ones asked if a neighbour could stand with them because they were frightened. Alexandra Park is a big park and in my opinion there are other areas where the gym equipment could quite easily be sited.”

Coun Dewhurst said she and ward colleagues Coun Mike Dewhurst and Coun Patricia Draper called a meeting for residents last week and a Wigan Council officer attended to listen to local concerns.

The park was one of three green spaces in the borough chosen by Wigan Council to have the equipment for exercising put in and locals are keen for it to stay but are determind the council listens to their concerns and the adverse effect the gym is having on their lives. The local authority said it was agreed by all concerned that installing the gym was a good idea but it would look again at where it is sited in the light of the concerns raised.

Penny McGinty, assistant director for leisure and property at Wigan Council, said: “As stated by Coun Dewhurst the council knows that there are really clear benefits for residents by installing gym-style equipment in our parks that everyone can use for free to keep active and healthy. We are aware of the issues raised by a few residents about the location and are currently reviewing options.”

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