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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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Youngsters' damage threatens future of Longtown site where they hang out

Young people are running the risk of losing one of their favourite hangouts because of the way they have been behaving there.

Longtown games area photo
The multi-use games area

The multi-use games area near the old Lochinvar School site in Longtown could be under threat.

Youngsters have been building ramps on the site. There have also been small fires there.

This has created concern about what could happen if there was an accident. There are also worries about the state of the concrete surface.

Members of Cumbria County Council, which owns the site, were told about this when Arthuret parish council met this week.

Parish clerk Karen Johnston said the ramps were being made of hay bales and wooden pallets to be used by youngsters as BMX jumps.

“We could actually lose the area because there isn’t anybody in place to keep it up,” she said.

The site was originally part of Lochinvar School and used for games such as football, netball and basketball.

Since the school closed in 2008, it has continued to be used by young people in the town although it now only has nets for football. It is used for training by several local youth teams.

Mrs Johnston told the meeting that there had been at least two fires reported at the games area, which had damaged its surface.

Val Tarbitt, the county council member for Longtown and Rockcliffe, said the council needed to look at the area because of liability risks. “It could be that we are going to have to lock it in case of someone having an accident,” she said.

The games area in Longtown is the only such facility owned by the county council.

Mrs Tarbitt added: “The county council does not run sites like this, this is an anomaly because it was part of the school.”

She has offered to fund netball or basketball nets from her member’s allowance but she added that if it was damaged beyond repair the county council would be unlikely to fund resurfacing work.

Ray Bloxham, city council member for Longtown and Rockcliffe, said: “I’m very sad because I thought it would be very well used but, like all things, you need groups of people to organise things.

“The day it gets damaged beyond repair and then has to be removed the county council, city council and parish council will get the blame and that’s a great shame.”

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