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Row after Yarm play area scheme is cancelled
2:48pm Friday 15th March 2013 in News
A ROW has broken out over the cancellation of a new play area for Yarm.
About £50,000 was secured from the Government for new play equipment for Leven Park - which has been bought - but now the park maintenance budget of £8,000 has been cut.
That means that the new play area will not go ahead, although the play equipment will still be used at a number of locations in the Yarm area.
Yarm Residents' Association has criticised Yarm's borough councillors, Mark Chatburn and Andrew Sherris for agreeing to the cut.
In a missive published online, Martin Kenefec, residents' association chairman, said: "I think these two individuals should be ashamed of themselves.
"Work on the play park was undertaken with children from Levendale Primary School and the decision to move forward was taken in consultation with them, Stockton Council's cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture and Yarm Town Council.
"Even the borough council's play partnership supports this scheme.
"They've taken this decision without consulting their colleagues."
In response, Coun Chatburn and Coun Sherris, who discussed the issue at Yarm Town Council, have written a letter.
In it, they explain that £50,000 was secured from the Government and a further £25,000 was earmarked from the councillors' own budgets.
However, Stockton Council has informed the pair there simply is no money to maintain the park equipment or monitor the area. In addition, neither the police nor the council's enforcement officers would support the new park area scheme without CCTV surveillance.
In the letter, the two councillors said: "We share the concerns of many residents that Yarm suffers from a longstanding shortage of leisure facilities, particularly for the town's youngsters.
"However, it is essential that not only do we deliver something to the very highest standard but there must be a realistic expectation that it could maintained long term to the same high standard.
"Unfortunately, it is painfully apparent that this is no longer a possibility.
"It is therefore with regret that ward councillors have made the difficult decision to agree with Stockton Council's recommendation that the scheme does not proceed."
Councillor Bob Cook, leader of Stockton Council, explained the council will have taken a £51m cut in Government funding by 2016 and the authority is beginning to look at ways to make £17.8m in savings in the medium term.
"Departments were reluctant to take on new spending, " he said.