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Concerns over Stratford Park play area


Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie has been contacted about concerns the newly refurbished Stratford Park play facilities will not properly cater for disabled children.

Ms Baillie visited the park with the grandmother of a disabled child as she continues her campaign for better disabled access at local play areas.

Despite the expensive refurbishment planned by the district council Karon Vizor-Beard told the MP she is worried that inclusivity has been an afterthought for children like her six-year-old grandson who is a wheelchair user.

She also asked the MP to see the walk from the Paganhill estate to Stratford Park and the approach to the play area and sports facilities to understand how hard it is to travel around due to the lack of dropped curbs and pathways. 

“I started raising the need to improve playgrounds a few years ago after a mum in Nailsworth with a disabled son said her able-bodied daughter was missing out as rarely could she take them both to playgrounds as there was no inclusive equipment for her son,” said Ms Baillie.

“I wrote to all parish councils a few years ago. Many are already making changes and following my letters, the district council created a fund for play areas.  This is really great but I am concerned that progress could be patchy if Stratford Park is anything to go by.

“If parents and grandparents are now looking at taxpayer funded investment by the council and questioning whether changes are properly inclusive, there are questions to answer.  Karon got fed up waiting for information from the council directly and contacted me.   

“The thing that is often missed is that able bodied children can play on inclusive equipment too so just putting the odd inclusive roundabout or swing in is not sufficient or necessary – especially now inclusivity is in planning guidance.

“I will be writing to the council because I want to understand what steps were taken to consult families near Stratford Park as I’m being told that has not happened and I hope that brilliant charities like Allsorts have been paid to provide advice to the council.”

She added: “I’ve also lobbied government and supported various applications around the district for national funding from the National Lottery and government.  ”

Karon said: “It makes me really angry that in his day and age there is a struggle for my grandson to play just like any other child in a newly refurbished park.

“More needs to be done to make all our play parks more inclusive for disabled children and I thank Siobhan for her campaign and for coming to see first-hand the problems we have  encountered – it is much appreciated.”

A Stroud District Council spokesperson said: “We met with Ms Vizor-Beard in a local coffee shop to discuss her concerns and we were able to explain to her that several items of equipment were accessible including the roundabout, sensory panels, and tower sides. The frame of an accessible basket swing has been installed, and we are currently awaiting delivery of the basket and an accessible bench.

“A meeting has been arranged with our play equipment provider to discuss increasing the paths around the play area that would link the sensory panels areas with the new seating area and the accessible swing.

“The existing drop-down curb near the Lido will be adjusted to enable easier access to the play park and we are making arrangements for a drop curb near the college. In the meantime officers are looking at a temporary solutions of installing curb ramps and interlocking grass matting over the grassed area to enable easier access of the park.

“One of the priorities in our Council Plan is Community Resilience and Wellbeing – strengthening and supporting our communities so people feel include and connected and we hope generations of children enjoy our newly refurbished park.”

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