Young campaigners to get their Deighton playground back, thanks to government grant
A defunct play park in Deighton, Huddersfield, is set to be reinstated with £25,000 of Home Office money following a campaign by children, teenagers and social enterprise Conscious Youth.
The news comes as Kirklees Council proposes widespread cutbacks to local play areas – particularly in the Ashbrow ward, which is set to be the hardest-hit in the borough, losing equipment in 13 parks.
The Riddings Road park used to have swings, slides, a see-saw and climbing frame – but all were removed without notice in 2016, after problems with vandalism and rotten wood.
Conscious Youth, which runs the Conscious Kidz youth club at the nearby Chestnut Centre, recognised the ‘devastating impact’ for local children and encouraged them to take action.
A total of 23 determined eight to 12-year-olds formed a campaign group, ‘Bring Back Our Park’ and – with support from Conscious Youth – enlisted backing from the council and Cummins Turbo Technologies, before appealing to the Home Office for funding.
Conscious Youth joint directors, Sophie Simpson and Serena Johnson broke the good news to the young campaigners on the site – and were met with cheers and delight!
Now plans – as they stand so far – will be shared with the wider community, at a consultation, and details finalised, before work gets under way using funding through the Home Office’s Pocket Parks Plus scheme.
Campaign group member Alisha Prentice, 12, said: “We loved the park when we were younger. We’ve missed it every day since it has gone. We are so pleased that people have listened to us and we’re going to get it back.”
Sophie Simpson said: “Ashbrow – which includes Deighton – is in the UK’s 20% most deprived council wards. We’ve seen cutbacks in youth provision here and a rise in crime and gang violence.
“The park was central to the community. Removal of play equipment meant that families had nowhere to go. The derelict look of the bare ground brings the area down – so it’s great that this youth-led social action project has been successful.”
Initial proposals are for a new, low-maintenance space suitable for all ages, which will be built using timber and stone. Cummins Turbo Technologies will provide support with landscaping and site preparation.
The council will oversee work including the installation of play equipment and features, which is set to include an imaginative climbing structure and an ‘enchanted woodland’ perimeter.
Serena Johnson said: “When the new park is complete, the whole community and partners will be invited to an official opening. We can’t wait!
“Everyone involved in the project is investing their time in kind – we all want to see this community build resilience – and thrive – and the reinstatement of the park is central to this.”
Conscious Youth is based at Huddersfield Media Centre and aims to boost young people’s self-esteem and life chances through training, workshops and other initiatives.