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Parents slam new 'flagship' play park for lack of disabled equipment

Published: 1 Feb 2014 12:300 comments

The new £500,000 ‘flagship’ play park at Dinton Pastures Country Park has been slammed by parents for its lack of disabled equipment.

Jane Smith with her daughter Rachel (5) and Rachel Murphy with her kids Charlie (3) and Mya (6) outside Dinton Pastures soon to be opened play area in Hurst pic chris forsey

The playpark, de-signed by Davies White Landscape Architects, is described by Cllr Angus Ross, Wokingham Borough Council executive member for environment, as: “Offering a wide range of activities for

children and young people of all abilities” – which has angered some parents who believe it is misleading.

The park, which features climbing trees, a giant slide, a zip wire, sandpit and tunnels is due to officially open in the spring.

But Jane Smith, whose daughter Rachel, five, has cerebral palsy, said she was dismayed to discover the new park would not have any wheelchair-friendly equipment. She said: “They built this flagship playground which is lovely but there’s nothing for children in wheelchairs. They said you could go in the sandpit, but have you ever tried taking a wheelchair into a sandpit?”

Mrs Smith, from Bracknell, added: “There’s nothing there that my daughter can use, it’s very upsetting. She loves going out, and she sees all the children playing and she wants to join in.

“It’s disappointing that nowhere along the line they thought about putting even one piece of equipment in. I’m not saying they have to have everything wheelchair friendly, even if it was just one piece of equipment, something everyone can use.”

However, Chris Buggy, the council’s countryside co-ordinator, said: “What we’re trying to get across is it’s about the environment not about a specific bit of equipment, they’re all accessible.

“The footpaths are all wheelchair accessible. We have got a changing place here so people with disabilities can respectfully get changed. The fun element will come from the interaction with the community being within the whole play environment.

“It’s a very different play area, it’s a challenging environment to challenge our whole community, and I think we have got a great site.

“The log swing is on sand, yes it’s not going to be wheelchair friendly but sand isn’t. It’s not a traditional area.”

Angie Burnish, whose daughter Moira uses a wheelchair, is trustee of Peapods, a parent-led charity working with disabled families in Berkshire.

She said: “If they described it as an adventure rough and tumble playground, fine, but they’re are misrepresenting it. I would hate for parents to come down only to find they couldn’t use the equipment.”

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