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No de-fence for open playground, say critics.

Byline: Mike Malyon Nuneaton reporter mike.malyon@coventrytelegraph.net

THE fenceless design of a refurbished children's playground in Exhall has been labelled "a joke."

New equipment has been installed at Heckley Fields by Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council but the area has purposely been left open, following government guidelines.

"I cannot believe it," said local resident Jack Lawlor. "Without having a boundary fence, dogs are free to run across the playground the leave their mess there, while I have already seen kids on motorbikes riding all over the site. Whatever happened to health and safety?" Mr Lawlor, 72, said he was astounded to learn from the contractors that no fencing was to be erected. "There is a metal barrier all the way round the adjoining outdoor basketball court right next door, but nothing to enclose the play area.

"When I got in touch with the council to complain, I was told that it was to do with European legislation.

"But I'm sure if that was the case, there would probably be a need for three fences. The whole thing is a joke."

Joy O'Hara, visiting the playground with her two grandsons, said: "I cannot understand why there is no fence and it is a real shame, because otherwise the playground is lovely.

"There used to be a fence all the way round the old play area, along with a heavy gate. Not only did that keep out the loose dogs but also helped keep the children from running off."

Mrs O'Hara, who lives in nearby Melville Close, added: "The way that humps and ramps have been created will only encourage motorbikers and skateboarders to use the site and I do think it should definitely be fenced off."

A council spokesman, referring to a document produced by Play England and supported by the Department for Education, said: "The play area at Heckley Fields is not enclosed with metal fencing so that it encourages natural play and doesn't restrict the recreational area that youngsters have available to them.

"It is widely recognised that the effect of fencing is detrimental to play and we actively seek to design play areas without boundaries, a contemporary approach which is nationally recognised as a given standard.

"This is, of course, different where busy roads or bodies of water are nearby for safety reasons.

"It is up to dog owners to ensure their pets are on a lead when near to play areas, something that was enforced recently with new dog control orders which have been introduced."

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The controversial unfenced playground at Heckley Fields in Exhall.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 26, 2014
Words:431
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