PARK PLANS: Volunteers hoping to make big changes to a dale play park, are from left, Brigitte Hodgson, Ali Collinson, Ruth Kneller, Sophie Markwick and Grace Crawford with their children
PARK PLANS: Volunteers hoping to make big changes to a dale play park, are from left, Brigitte Hodgson, Ali Collinson, Ruth Kneller, Sophie Markwick and Grace Crawford with their children

A GROUP of volunteer parents, working with the parish council, are hoping to revitalise a dale play park after safety concerns meant it had to close last summer.

Wesley Park Play area, in Middleton-in-Teesdale, was shut for the entire school summer holidays after a safety inspection found some of the equipment was in a dangerous condition. The park was closed on the orders of Middleton-in-Teesdale and Newbiggin Parish Council which maintains the facility, though it was reopened in September after the immediate concerns were addressed.

Since then a play area working group, consisting of three parish councillors and volunteers, many of whom have young children, has been focussing on improving the park and fundraising.

Although the existing equipment was installed less than a decade ago some of it is at the end of its life. The group hope to be able to replace the existing equipment with more modern, safe and engaging items, which are inclusive to children of all ages and abilities.

Volunteer Sophie Markwick said: “We have been speaking to specialist companies because we want the play area to be completely inclusive. One example of the new equipment would be installing a swing that can be safely used by children with mobility difficulties, but they are expensive.”

The group has already received donations from families and business totalling about £1,000 to go towards funding the revamp.

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Members will be applying for funding grants and are busy preparing fundraising events.

Ms Markwick added: “We will also be setting up a justgiving page through the parish council, where anyone who wants to make a donation can do so. At the moment we don’t have a target figure to achieve as we need to consult with the rest of the community about what items of equipment they would want.”

The working group will hold a public consultation event, where families can have their say on the format of the play area, on Saturday, February 9, between 1pm and 3pm at the Utass (Upper Teesdale Agricultural Service) Office in Middleton-in-Teesdale. Refreshments and children’s activities will be available.

Mum Faye Docherty said: “We need to hear ideas from children of all ages about the new equipment they would like to see in their play area, and which apparatus they love to play on and wish to keep.”

Anyone wishing to donate to the play area fund may do so in writing via cheque, made payable to Middleton-in-Teesdale and Newbiggin Parish Council, Moor Edge, Snaisgill, Middleton-in-Teesdale DL12 0RP, or by bank transfer to sort code 20-25-29 account number 93540510, with the donor’s name as a reference.