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Council criticised over ‘frustrating’ inaccessible playground equipment

PUBLISHED: 16:52 04 October 2018

The councils fell out over the installation of play equipment at Fearns Park in Cromer. Tim Adams and disability awareness campaigner Emma Spagnola at the site. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The councils fell out over the installation of play equipment at Fearns Park in Cromer. Tim Adams and disability awareness campaigner Emma Spagnola at the site. Picture: Sonya Duncan

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

A row has erupted after a north Norfolk council installed play equipment a campaigner says is unusable by disabled children, despite being offered funding for accessible items.

Cllr Tim Adams and disability awareness campaigner Emma Spagnola at the park in Cromer where accessible play  equipment for younger children is needed.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018Cllr Tim Adams and disability awareness campaigner Emma Spagnola at the park in Cromer where accessible play equipment for younger children is needed. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) was offered £30,000 for accessible play equipment by Cromer Town Council (CTC) earlier this year to replace items which had been removed from the Fearns Park playground.

But last month NNDC installed a climbing frame at the Fearns Park site which campaigner Emma Spagnola says is unsuitable for children with disabilities.

But NNDC said the equipment was installed as it was surplus stock they had in storage.

And the council say they are happy to continue discussing accessible play equipment with residents and the town council.

Cllr Tim Adams and disability awareness campaigner Emma Spagnola at the park in Cromer where accessible play  equipment for younger children is needed.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018Cllr Tim Adams and disability awareness campaigner Emma Spagnola at the park in Cromer where accessible play equipment for younger children is needed. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

Cromer disability campaigner and mum-of-two, Mrs Spagnola, said: “At the beginning of the year we talked about accessible play equipment for children in Cromer.

“The town council came up with the £30,000 amount to donate and NNDC said they would ‘adopt’ it.

“We had three play equipment providers come down and almost decided what we wanted.

“One of the things we looked at was trying to do accessible play equipment for blind children.”

Cllr Tim Adams and disability awareness campaigner Emma Spagnola at the park in Cromer where accessible play  equipment for younger children is needed.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018Cllr Tim Adams and disability awareness campaigner Emma Spagnola at the park in Cromer where accessible play equipment for younger children is needed. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

Mrs Spagnola, 44, from Cromer, described the new play equipment NNDC had installed as “the same thing that’s already on there”, and added: “It’s just so frustrating.

“It felt like they were turning down all that money for Cromer children. It’s so important for all children with disabilities. They deserve to be able to play.”

Town councillor Tim Adams said: “Play equipment in north Norfolk has been deteriorating for some time.

“We have nothing at all for disabled children.”

Cllr Tim Adams and disability awareness campaigner Emma Spagnola at the park in Cromer where accessible play  equipment for younger children is needed.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018Cllr Tim Adams and disability awareness campaigner Emma Spagnola at the park in Cromer where accessible play equipment for younger children is needed. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

He added: “They knew we were interested in that site, as there were existing items there that have been removed.

“I feel they’ve wasted my time. Who looks a £30,000 gift horse in the mouth?”

A spokesperson for NNDC said: “We recently installed a piece of play equipment at this site which we had in stock and was otherwise surplus to requirements so local children and visiting children could enjoy it.

“We would be more than happy to discuss further with CTC the potential for the installation which they have mentioned if they are able to progress their fundraising target.”

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