Walsham picks up Cromer's skatepark cash

CHILDREN in North Walsham will be enjoying a play park next month - benefiting from a �50,000 cash pot which had originally been destined for Cromer.Attractions including a 25m zip wire, maze, aerial seesaw, tunnel, mini football pitch and basketball net will be installed among abundant landscaping on The Green in Acorn Road.

CHILDREN in North Walsham will be enjoying a play park next month - benefiting from a �50,000 cash pot which had originally been destined for Cromer.

Attractions including a 25m zip wire, maze, aerial seesaw, tunnel, mini football pitch and basketball net will be installed among abundant landscaping on The Green in Acorn Road. The scheme will also feature a �10,000 youth shelter funded by the Victory Housing Trust.

But the project, which must be finished by the end of March, has already attracted the same fears about anti-social behaviour which saw officials pull the plug on spending the government cash to create a skate park at Cromer's Happy Valley.

Liz Cornwall and another Acorn Road resident are worried that the play park will attract even more young people to The Green and fear vandalism, under-age drinking, foul language and intimidation which, they say, are already long-standing problems.


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They also claim the scheme has been rushed through without proper consultation and that the proper place for the type of equipment planned is in a supervised adventure park.

But North Norfolk District Council officials say demands for facilities in the area stretch back several years, 85pc of residents who replied to a pre-Christmas consultation letter were in favour of the play park and the money - from the government's Playbuilder scheme for funding projects for young people - would have been lost to Walsham if a decision had not been taken quickly.

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In Cromer, fears among nearby chalet owners that a park for skateboarders and BMX riders would attract drug use, drunkenness and under-age sex resulted in funders turning their back on the town late last year.

Sonia Shuter, district health improvement officer, said the choice of Acorn Road was a response to pleas from residents who wanted facilities for children at their end of town.

All equipment met health and safety standards and there had been no significant incidents with similar items elsewhere in the district. Although aimed at children aged eight to 13, many of the features could be enjoyed by all ages.

'This park will go ahead. There haven't been enough objections to stop it,' said Mrs Shuter. The council was expecting quotes back this week and the chosen contractor would begin work early next month.

A resident, who asked not to be named, said cement render had come off in slabs from one side of her home, beside The Green, because of balls hitting it. The same wall had been graffitied and children regularly vandalised her garden fence.

She had also picked up many discarded alcohol bottles left by young people and on one occasion a child had threatened her pregnant daughter with half a brick.

Mrs Cornwall added: 'I'm not against a play park but this has been railroaded through and I don't think it's been thought out properly. It has to be properly policed to stop a minority making life miserable for residents.'

Supt Dave Marshall said police had received no reports of anti-social behaviour from the Acorn Road area since April 2009 and he urged people to make contact if they had concerns. An officer had recently been in touch with the unnamed resident to discuss her views.

Eric Seward, town and district councillor for the area, said: 'The play park hasn't been designed to encourage anti-social behaviour. It's for the benefit and enjoyment of the whole community, in response to what they have been telling us they want,' he said.

'I shall be keeping a close watch on this and if there is anti-social behaviour down there I shall want it stamped on quickly.'

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