Silverlands “Supposed” Playpark

Melksham’s £236,000 Splashpad sees its grand opening today, August 3rd, at the King George Playing Field. As well as children having a good time splashing around, with a beach-styled day of celebration including ice cream and fish n chips, it is just part of a wider program of improvements reserved for the King George Playing Field. This is simply brilliant, and should be held up as testament to what Town Councils can achieve for our young; metaphorically held up that is, take it too literally all the water would drain off it!

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Naturally, adults of Devizes rushed to their Facebook groups to bleat that’s not fair, they’ve got a splashpad, I want a splashpad, I want a splashpad now, Devizes Town Council! For what it’s worth the idea has been passed around town council meetings, but such a plan took the Sham two years to complete, so, plenty of time to brush the idea under a see-saw.

Meanwhile though, I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to the village of Rowde, where the Silverlands Road playpark is in the same state of dilapidation as it has been for over three years. I’ve made my statement to the Rowde Parish Council, told them I would kick up a fuss, I know some of them know Devizine can kick up quite a fuss, and they know I know I can kick up a fuss, and so on.

But I’ve been assured they’ve taken heed, and the notion has been raised again since the meeting I attended in Spring. But it should be pointed out, the playing field is not their property, rather the final playpark outpost of Wiltshire Council; councillors love to slide! As control of such county recreation grounds have been passed to parish and town councils, we can see at Melksham the effect it has had, yet Rowde Parish Council rightly want the play equipment to be repaired before acquisition.

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So, it’s been lingering, lost in limbo for many a year; I’ve been biting my bottom lip but it’s just worn thin. The legal process, the minutes state as published in Rowde Village News, will take two years to complete. I’m unsure if they’ve come to an agreement over its repair, and whether the two years begin now, or when the said agreement is finalised. Yet, local politics isn’t my bag, I’m afraid. See, I don’t give a dingo’s kidney for this red tape battle, all I am writing this for is for you to see and assess yourself how dangerous this playpark has become and how ludicrously listless Wiltshire Council have been.

As school in Rowde is kaput for the day, the kids flock to the nearby park, why, for the past few years is quite a mystery to me; only half of the four pieces of equipment are functional, and they are primally for toddlers. Yes, give children an area and they will make do and their imaginings could conjure an adventure playground akin to Bowood, but the actual is quite another thing. The grass is irregularly cut, and when it is it’s simply strimmed over leaving thistles and stinging nettles to thrive. One of two swings was damaged, about two years ago, so it was stripped out along with the second swing for good measure, and the stand is left as a vacant testimony to some swings that once was. This is not, however, an overhead issue quite as much as the bouncy chicken who once lived in the park. He is the icing on the cake.

Ah, the bouncy chicken, alas I remember him so well. Yep, he got injured, and was taken to bouncy playpark heaven. All that remains of his existence is this cold, steel baseplate which cries out “hey kid, come trip over me!”

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I’ve snapped a photo of it for your perusal, deemed “completely safe” for a playpark by Wiltshire Council, this metal baseplate protrudes two inches above the surface, with a sharp broken edge. I’ve witnessed some kids trip on it, my concern is rather one tripping close to it and hitting their head; backed up by that safety flooring stuff worn and curled up at the edges. That’s gonna hurt, Wiltshire Council, and for why, why could you not fix it, be proactive?

Fix it, hand the darn thing over to the parish council. Children have grown up with it and the next generation are already blossoming while you’ve been quarrelling like children yourself over thepitiful red tape. Fix it and I will campaign and fund raise for improvements, my daughter suggested a death slide, perhaps OTT, yet there’s a few councillors who clearly need pushing down one! No, I mean some older activities, as the kids here have grown while waiting; a football goal, a bench to “hang out” on, simple stuff like that.

Perhaps you shrug, understandable, when you were a kid the playpark was a dangerous concrete monstrosity. Kids fell, heads were smashed open, but you were hardy, you just scooped up spilled brains with dirty, fruit salad and black jack sticky hands, popped them back in your cranium and continued to play. I really don’t need a school-of-hard-knocks debate, I don’t care if you don’t care cos your kids don’t play there, and I’m not belittling Melksham’s finest playpark hour, for I’m truly impressed by this grand opening.

I’m only here to hold this farcical display of negligence up as a demonstration to Wiltshire Council’s complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of village children. You want Wiltshire Council to fix up the roads, provide adequate street lighting, deliver a working infrastructure? They can’t even fix a blasted bouncy chicken.


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