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Playground plans to be reviewed again
Published 11/04/14

PLANS to refurbish the toddler play area in Henley are to be re-examined at the request of one of the two shortlisted bidders.

The town council’s recreation and amenities committee unanimously agreed that the £126,000 plan drawn up by Play and Leisure, of Buckley, Cheshire, should be recommended to the full council for approval.

But the other bidder, Kompan, a Danish company which makes “smart” playgrounds that interact with mobile phones, objected.

The council has budgeted up to £135,000 to refurbish the playground in Mill Meadows, where some of the equipment is currently banned from use on health and safety grounds.

The Play and Leisure playground would be themed around the River Thames and have more than a dozen piece of equipment designed for children aged up to nine.

These would include swings, slides, roundabouts, an obstacle course, a see-saw, a wobbly surfboard on springs and a climbing frame in the shape of a pirate ship.

The playground would have a soft floor painted to look as though a river ran through it. Kompan’s £130,000 proposal was themed around Hans Christian Andersen. The council’s toddler playground advisory group said this had a higher “wow factor” but offered poorer value for money than the other plan.

It said the equipment would take longer to repair as the replacement parts were not made in the UK. The company wrote to the council to dispute some of the group’s conclusions and the council agreed to have “one more look” at both proposals.

Speaking at the full council meeting last week, Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “In light of a new letter we’ve received I propose that the toddler group be reconvened with delegated powers to make a decision.”

The Mayor proposed expanding the group to seven councillors so that there was a wide range of opinions when deciding which plan to choose. “We’re told that this is a sensible way of doing things because we do have to protect the town council and make sure we spend the money properly,” he said.

Councillor Sam Evans said: “I think Kompan have actually done us a huge favour by bringing this forward.”

Councillors on the toddler working group are now the Mayor, Elizabeth Hodgkin, Jeni Wood, Pam Phillips, Kellie Hinton, David Nimmo Smith and Joan Bland.

The council held two public consultations in January. Families were shown a display board of designs and asked what features they would like to see added to the playground. People also filled in a questionnaire about how they use the area, safety issues and how it could be improved.

Earlier in the meeting, a motion put forward by Cllr Nimmo Smith to refer the issue of funding the scheme back to the finance strategy and management committee was defeated by eight votes to six in favour.

Cllr Nimmo Smith said he accepted the need for the refurbishment but not the way the council was being asked to fund the project.

Councillor Will Hamilton said the work could be done for £100,000.

Cllr Dieter Hinke said the current children’s play area needed to be scrapped and replaced with something “worthy” of Henley.

• In the Henley Standard of March 28 we incorrectly reported that the council had approved the Play and Leisure proposal. We apologise for this error and any misleading impression given.

Published 11/04/14

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