COUNCILLORS have produced a shopping list of the town’s most deserving playground improvements.
The move follows wholesale changes in the way Open Space funds – the cash that property developer firms must pay alongside their application for community facilities – is allocated.
There has been a long running complaint from opposition councillors that the Section 106 cash pot, as it is termed, isn’t always spent in the same wards in which it is generated.
Now, with the end of Wigan’s 10 Township Forums as part of the Government’s controversial Localism Bill, councillors themselves have named what they believe are the most deserving play parks across the borough.
Priority nominations include:
Coun Yvonne Klieve - Heywood Park in Golborne: She said: “ It missed out when Pathfinder Funding was withdrawn by the Government. The park was earmaked for an adventure playground aimed at teenagers rather than young children. We should be looking at a skate park as Leigh Street park caters for children not youths.”
Coun Damian Edwardson - Shevington Park: He said: “The list seems to have disregarded the true requirements of Shevington. Other wards have had far more funding and better facilities for years and it is time our parks were treated equally. We have issues with anti social behaviour and part of this is due to a lack of facilities for varying age groups.”
Coun Paul Collins - area behind St Anne’s School, Standish Lower Ground: He said: “Large items of play equipment such as maybe a low maintenance concrete skate park and zip wire plus an informal playing surface with goals and lighting for kick about games.”
Coun Jeanette Prescott - Redwood Park in Norley Hall: She said: “The park is well used but only has two pieces of equipment in it. We feel that as its a park and it serves all the community, but if you get a few families turning up then they have to wait till it becomes available.”
Coun Bob Brierley - Thomas Street Rec, Hindley Green: He said: “We are in the process of applying for a football club in Hindley Green to accommodate the residents of Hindley Green and this is the first ever facility we have ever applied for, with 106’s funding coming from the Council house development on the old Thomas Street school site monies of approximate £51,000 plus funding from information of £2m available for sport will hopefully be added to the project.”
Council director of places Gillian Bishop, who will make the decision on which are chosen, confirmed that it was now proposed to change the way in which monies collected for open space and play provision were spent in Wigan.
The tariff for the supplementary charges levied against developers - there are sliding scales for developments of under and over 100 homes – remains unchanged.
She said: “Ward councillors have been consulted on the priorities for recreational provision within their area for this year and will be consulted again for next year’s priorities.
“There is a clear need to amend the process for spending Section 106 monies which have been collected from housing developments for play and open space provision.
“Spending on play provision continues to be within the townships that the funding is collected from but this is made against a list of play provision priorities for each township area
“For open space provision it is proposed that this is spent on a borough wide basis against the priorities in an Annual Improvement Plan.”