Sunday, 20 August 2017

Families call for play area to re-open after 10 years

PARENTS, children and residents of an estate in Sonning Common have come together in calling for a play area to

PARENTS, children and residents of an estate in Sonning Common have come together in calling for a play area to be reopened.

The green in Pages Orchard has been closed for about 10 years after it became a meeting place for teenagers at night and attracted anti-social behaviour.

Residents in that road and the neighbouring Ashford Avenue want to see it opened again at weekends and during school holidays between 9am and 5pm for young children to use.

They believe it would be safer for the children who are now used to playing on the roads instead and several residents have offered to be keyholders.

Anthony Horne, 45, a builder who lives in Ashford Avenue with his fiancée Diane, 49, and son Charlie, eight, said: “It would be great to know that I could let my son play there and he would be just round the corner.

“It’s just somewhere for the children to go. There would be an age limit and if we could keep in touch with the Pcso I’m sure we could some to some sort of agreement.

“There’s so many families round here and a lot of residents who wouldn’t mind supervising in their spare time.

“I remember going there in my youth. There were cherry trees there, swings and slides and it was a good, safe place to go.

“The play area is wasted. The kids are retreating to the village centre because it’s the only place to hang out. Why have they not got somewhere to go?”

Mr Horne, who offered to be a keyholder and to cut the grass, said he would prefer to know his son was in a supervised play area than at Bishopswood Sports Ground, where a skate park is to be built.

He said: “Who’s going to send their child through the woods in this day and age to play up there?

“I wouldn’t let Charlie go up there on his bike because it’s just too dark. You’re probably talking about a mile to get there from here.

“The children do need something in Sonning Common and with the influx of new houses coming up in the village there’s going to be more families, more traffic and more crime if there’s nothing for them.

Katherine Clark, 23, who has two children, Luca, five, and Taylan, three, said police officers had knocked on her door in the past asking about children playing on the street.

She said: “They said the kids need to get off the road. One neighbour doesn’t want them playing on the grass either so there’s nowhere else for them to play football other than the road.

“If the play area was open they could just go in there. In the summer there are about a dozen kids out in the street.”

Karen Lowe, of Ashford Avenue, who has four children including seven-year-old Jodie, said: “The recreation facilities in this area are awful. The only thing they have is the youth club at Chiltern Edge twice a week for years five and older.

“If you had four or five parents on the keyholders list they would only have the key once or twice a month. “

Mrs Lowe, who is a lunchtime supervisor at Sonning Common Primary School, said there was a play area in Baskerville Road but it wasn’t appropriate for younger children.

She said: “You feel sorry for the children because there’s not much for them to do around here.”

Ian McQuistan, 42, who lives in Ashford Avenue with his 38-year-old wife Mandy Butler-Limbrick and three children aged between 11 and 13, said: “The kids need somewhere to play and get rid of their excess energy.

“You find them in the middle of the road all the time and they’re just bored. There needs to be a better infrastructre in Sonning Common, especially when they’re talking about building new houses.”

Eva Johnson, 75, of Pages Orchard, has collected 16 signatures in a petition. It includes parents and residents aged 89 and 95.

She said: “It would be a good idea because the children are playing on the road and are some of them only just little dots.

“They can’t play on the grass because there’s dogs’ mess everywhere so they play on the road and near the potholes.

“There have been times when I’ve been looking out my window and a car has swerved out and I’ve shut my eyes because I think it’s going to hit them. That’s probably what it would take for the play are to be opened.”

Ms Johnson said the park was opened for a barbecue in aid of Nomad two years ago but it was immediately closed again to the public.

She claims when the land was privately sold to Soha housing association, one of the conditions imposed was the provision of the play area.

Ms Johnson, whose house looks over the park entrance, said she would be happy to hold a key or supervise the children.

The grandmother-of-13 added: “Soha says it will do anything to improve safety but that’s not safe having little kids running round on the street. It would only be for kids of a young age.”

Max Maughan, a 13-year-old Chiltern Edge pupil who lives in the street, said: “I would appreciate it if they opened it because when we’re on the road we have to move whenever a car comes and our footballs get popped as well.

“If someone says we can’t play on the road we have to go home. We would keep it tidy and it would be a great place for my eight-year-old brother Ben to play with his friends.”



ends



Waiting for Soha quote



Caption:

Back: Karen Lowe, Anthony Horne, Katherine Clark, Max Maughan, 13, Eva Johnson, Leilah Lewington, 12, Michael Wright, 14

Middle: Jodie Lowe, seven, Charlie Horne, eight, Ben Underwood, eight

Front: Taylan Britton, three and his brother Luca, five





FAMILIES are calling for a play area in Sonning Common to be re-opened.

The green in Pages Orchard has been closed for about 10 years after it became a meeting place for teenagers at night and led to antisocial behaviour. It is now owned by housing association Soha.

Residents want young children to be able to use it during the day at weekends and during school holidays and several of them have volunteered to be keyholders.

Anthony Horne, 45, a builder who lives in Ashford Avenue with his fiancée Diane, 49, and son Charlie, eight, said: “It would be great to know that I could let my son play there and he would be just round the corner. There are so many families round here and a lot of residents wouldn’t mind supervising in their spare time.

Mr Horne, who has offered to be a keyholder and to cut the grass in the play area remembers playing there as a child. “There were cherry trees, swings and slides and it was a good safe place to go,” he said. “It’s just somewhere for the children to go.”

He said a supervised play area would be better for his son than Bishopswood Sports Ground, where a skate park is to be built.

Mr Horne said: “Who’s going to send their child through the woods to play up there in this day and age? I wouldn’t let Charlie go up there on his bike because it’s just too dark. You’re probably talking about a mile to get there from here.

“The children need something in Sonning Common and with new houses coming there’s going to be more families.”

Katherine Clark, 23, who has two children, Luca, five, and Taylan, three, said police officers had knocked on her door asking about children playing in the street.

She said: “They said the kids needed to get off the road. One neighbour doesn’t want them playing on the grass so there’s nowhere for them to play football other than the road.

“In the summer there are about a dozen kids out in the street. If the play area was open they could just go in there.” Karen Lowe, of Ashford Avenue, who has four children, said: “The recreation facilities in this area are awful. The only thing the kids have is the youth club at Chiltern Edge twice a week for years five and older.”

Mrs Lowe, who is a lunchtime supervisor at Sonning Common Primary School, said there was a play area in Baskerville Road but it wasn’t suitable for younger children.

She said: “You feel sorry for the children because there’s not much for them to do around here.”

Ian McQuistan, 42, who lives in Ashford Avenue with his 38-year-old wife Mandy Butler-Limbrick and three children, aged 11 to 13, said: “The kids need somewhere to play and get rid of their excess energy. You find them in the middle of the road all the time and they’re just bored.”

Eva Johnson, 75, of Pages Orchard, has collected 16 signatures on a petition calling for the play area to be re-opened.

She said: “It would be good because the children are playing in the road and some of them are only just little dots. They can’t play on the grass because there’s dogs’ mess everywhere so they play on the road and near the potholes.

“There have been times when I’ve looked out the window and seen a car having to swerve and I’ve shut my eyes because I thought it was going to hit them.”

Ms Johnson said the play area was opened two years for a charity barbecue event but was then closed again.

She added: “Soha says it will do anything to improve safety but it’s not safe having little kids running around in the street.”

A Soha spokesman said the idea of reviving the play area was considered last summer but there didn’t appear to be enough volunteers to help with keyholding and supervision duties.

“If it’s something the residents wish to revisit and if there’s some interest we’re very open to the idea,” he said.

“We said we would need some people to help make sure it was run properly because there are some sensitivities in the area.”

Parish councillor Chrissie Phillips-Tilbury said: “We have two play areas within easy walking distance of Pages Orchard and one slightly further away in Churchill Crescent.

“Sadly, despite putting in a lot of new equipment and improving maintenance, they are under-used. My grandchildren and I are regularly the only people there.”

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