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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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£33,000 playground for north Cumbrian village with no children

Plans for a new £33,000 playground have been unveiled – in a village with no children.

Brisco play area photo
Residents Wendy and Roger Hocking, front, with other villagers

The bid to transform the traditional village common in Brisco, near Carlisle, into a “mini Hammonds Pond” has been branded a white elephant.

Villagers say the proposal is just plain silly as the majority of the 90-odd residents are pensioners and there are no children to enjoy it.

Campaigners from the Brisco Common Action Committee claim virtually the entire village is against the scheme.

But their protests are falling on deaf ears, they say, as St Cuthbert Without parish council is ploughing on with the plan regardless.

The news comes in the week after The Cumberland News revealed how 21 play areas across Carlisle are to be stripped bare of their equipment in a cost-cutting move.

Dave Cherry, from the action group, said: “The parish council plan to spend all this money , it’s just silly.

“Most of the residents are over 60 and we have no children who will use it.

“Hammonds Pond is very close by and has every facility for families to have a great time out.

“All we need is for the council to maintain the drains on the common. It needs to be left as open space for people to enjoy as they always have.

“Villagers just cannot understand why the parish council is spending all this money at a time when Carlisle City Council is ripping out play areas and local government jobs and services are under such threat.”

The project includes a brand new playground, ponds, picnic tables, trees, shrub beds and a car park.

More than 120 villagers in Brisco and surrounding areas have penned letters of protest to the parish council.

Campaigners insist the scheme is not wanted and fear it will cost taxpayers thousands of pounds to install and maintain over many years.

They add that one of the reasons behind a rise in local council tax rates last November was to fund the development.

A spokesman for the action group said: “Residents fear this is the just the start of council demands to pay for this folly.”

Villager Wendy Hocking said she asked the parish council why they were doing it at its last meeting.

“They all just remained stony silent. I felt so humiliated,” she added.

Roger Taylor, secretary of the action committee, said: “From the start the parish council has ignored residents’ objections and just ploughed on. They keep telling us the changes are for all the parish, not just Brisco.

“They need to tell ratepayers how much this is going to cost in future yearly maintenance and then actually ask the entire parish if they want it.”

St Cuthbert Without parish council declined to comment when approached by The Cumberland News.

But it has held a public consultation into the proposals and posted details to every property in Brisco, according to planning documents.

The papers add that the park will be built making sure maintenance requirements are minimal and voluntary labour may be used.

And full consideration has been given to costs and the impact on the council’s tax precept.

In a letter to residents, council chairman Richard Workman wrote that considerable thought had been given to how the land could be developed providing more interesting and usable space.

Villagers were invited to an open meeting last year to have their say on the scheme.

The authority has also been in contact with nearby schools in Stoneraise and Wreay to explain the educational benefits to children.

The parish council has also been applying for various grants to help fund the proposal and one bid for £12,200 had been successful.

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