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Posted by: John Brace | 6th August 2014

The incredible story of the Gautby Road Play Area starring 1 press release, 1 padlock, 1 councillor and an MP

The incredible story of the Gautby Road Play Area starring 1 press release, 1 padlock, 1 councillor and an MP

                          

Below is a picture of Gautby Road Play Area (owned by Wirral Council) in Bidston which is next to Gautby Road Community Centre taken on the 5th August at about two o’clock in the afternoon.

Gautby Road Play Area Bidston 5th August 2014
Gautby Road Play Area (5th August 2014)

Here is a photo of the sign (also taken the same day at around two o’clock) which is next to the only gate in and out of the Gautby Road Play Area.

Gautby Road Play Area Bidston 5th August 2014
Gautby Road Play Area sign

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed a padlock on the gate, a close up of which is below. So just to make it perfectly clear, yesterday when the photo was taken the only gate into the Gautby Road Play Area was padlocked. This is the reality of the situation.

Gautby Road Play Area padlock Bidston 5th August 2014
Gautby Road Play Area padlock

However the reality of the situation is not what Wirral Council put in a press release titled “Come and play all day!”. The press release is partly about National Play Day 2014 (which is today) but also states “Youth and Play Service also operate three full-time all year round play facilities located at Beechwood Play & Community centre, Leasowe Adventure Playground and Gautby Road, providing free play provision for children and young people aged from six to 14 years.”

At the last Birkenhead Constituency Committee held on the 24th July, my wife asked why the Gautby Road play area was being kept padlocked. Here’s a transcript of the bit of the meeting which you can also watch the video of starting here.

Leonora Brace
I’ve got two questions to ask.

Rt Hon Frank Field MP
Yeah.

Leonora Brace
I did ask Cllr Crabtree and [Cllr] Harry Smith about the children’s play area in Gautby Road, Bidston.

Rt Hon Frank Field MP
Yes.

Leonora Brace
About it being locked all the time and two children nearly drowned in the lake at the back on the opposite side and he told me I had to ask when I came here.

Rt Hon Frank Field MP
Very good, instead of asking do you think we could actually have an answer for Mrs Brace and err can you do that?

Cllr Ann McLachlan (Cabinet Member for Governance, Commissioning and Improvement)
Chair, through you Chair. The Gautby Road Play Area which has recently just been refurbished actually, is only through the, it’s used predominantly by the Gautby Road Play and Community Centre and they kind of keep the keys and police it, but it is through the summer it’s open. The play centre’s open all through the day. So it is open.

Leonora Brace
No. Sorry it’s not. It’s locked, it’s padlocked!

Cllr Ann McLachlan (Cabinet Member for Governance, Commissioning and Improvement)
It is yes, but the play area is open all through the summer holidays. The play centre is open…

Leonora Brace
It’s the area outside where they go up and you know jumping up.

Cllr Ann McLachlan (Cabinet Member for Governance, Commissioning and Improvement)
Yes.

Leonora Brace
That’s not open! I passed it again today, yesterday I passed it and it’s all padlocked!

Rt Hon Frank Field MP
Will councillors when they next pass…?

Cllr Ann McLachlan (Cabinet Member for Governance, Commissioning and Improvement)
I was down there signing some cheques for somebody yesterday and it was open! The play area was open and there were children playing there.

Rt Hon Frank Field MP
Will councillors who pass Gautby Road, would they please check?

Cllr Ann McLachlan (Cabinet Member for Governance, Commissioning and Improvement)
Well yes, it’s in my ward! Yes I will.

Rt Hon Frank Field MP
Very good.

Cllr Pat Williams responds to this story on Twitter:

If you click on any of the buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this article with other people.


Responses

  1. […] My next blog post today will be illustrating why filming is necessary to show that what politicians say…… […]

  2. the Gautby road playground is also locked on sundays even in the summer and at all times when the playscheme is Not open and it always Has been.
    Sunday 8th sept (and not for the 1st time) i watched with my heart in my mouth as kiddies, the oldest 12ish the youngest 8ish climbed the railings to get in to play. it’s a wonder no kids have been impaled yet as the railings are Very high and pointy.
    Surely this, as a health & safety issue much be addressed by the powers that be. Why lock it at all,indeed,why have railings?. if it’s for the benefit of the community as a whole why the need to keep the community out except when the playcentre is open.

    • I live nearby to the Gautby Road play area and have seen the same thing happen with my own eyes. I fully agree with you.

      The reasons given for locking it were “to prevent crime” and to “prevent play without adult supervision” and to “prevent older teenagers using it”.

      We brought it up at the last Birkenhead Constituency Committee. The Chair of the committee that runs the Community Centre/Play Area is Cllr Ann McLachlan.

      However according to her, when she goes (and is expected) at the community centre to sign cheques it is open then. It’s very frustrating to get anything done on this!

      There have been offers of providing the key to the padlock, but couldn’t they just open it and close it when the community centre opens and closes?

      Wirral Council did put out a press release that the Gautby Road Play Area was open over the summer holidays (which it wasn’t) so I think they are in denial about the whole thing… but thanks very much for your comment!

  3. […] In fact I think she’s Chair of that. Yes that’s the committee that is in charge of the play area next to the community centre which is kept padlocked because the last thing we want is…, Improvement Board meetings (which ceased in November 2013), Chrysalis (what’s that?), a trip […]


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