Jacqui Rayment, Cabinet member for Environment and Transport, writes:
Play is such an important part of childhood and is so critical in our era of rising obesity and sedentary lifestyles. I am pleased, that despite our many financial challenges, the Labour Administration is supporting investment in play areas.
Not all the money comes from the Council direct: sometimes it is about supporting ‘friends of’ groups in places like Freemantle Common in Peartree, and sometimes it is about gathering monies raised from developers, of which the hugely successful Houndwell Park is an example.
The Council has just approved in its budget a long list of plans to maintain and improve existing parks over the next few years, for example the Veracity Ground in Sholing and Lake Park in Freemantle.
One of the most eye-catching proposals is a major overhaul of the play facilities in Southampton Common. This is a space visited by residents across the city and is much loved, though is often unusable in the winter months. We are involving a huge number of stakeholders, from organisations who wish to preserve our parks and heritage to local residents, schools and many groups of users to help design proposals that will then go to formal consultation later this Spring.
The aim is to achieve a play area that combines wet and dry play, that can be used all year round, is eco-friendly and is the best quality possible for all those who use it. The proposals will involve a total makeover of the site, including the removal of the old paddling pool,to be replaced with modern water play. Make sure you look out for this consultation so you can have your say.