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Play area fundraisers cry foul over surgery.

Byline: By Neil McKay

Villagers who held coffee mornings, bric-a-brac sales and other fundraising efforts to pay for a new playground have been dismayed to hear a GPs' surgery could be created next door.

The swings, slides and roundabout behind the football field at Sherburn, near Durham City, were paid for by Oak, the Sherburn Outdoor Action for Kids group of volunteers.

But just two months after the playground opened planning permission has been granted for a surgery between the football field and the play area.

The news has angered Oak stalwarts, including Durham City councillor Stuart Walton, who is furious that his own local authority agreed to sell the land for the surgery.

He said: "I am a Liberal Democrat and a Durham City councillor, but I am a Sherburn resident first and foremost.

"The previous Labour-controlled Durham City administration sold off assets and now it looks as if we are following suit.

"The land the council plans to sell is partly a car park used by people using the football field and the nearby leisure centre, as well as encroaching on to part of the football field.

"It means the playground will be tucked behind the building, which is not what we had envisaged.

"We raised pounds 27,000 for the play area, through our own fundraising and by obtaining grants.

"There are many more appropriate locations for a GP surgery in Sherburn, including one just a few yards away, without building it next to our play area.

"I am dismayed and angered that the land has been sold off."

He was supported by local man Gary O'Connor, out enjoying a Sunday morning breath of fresh air while his son Jake, six, played on the swings.

"It is a lovely place to bring Jake, I can watch the Sunday morning football while he plays on the swings.

"But it will be spoiled if a surgery is built next to it," said Mr O'Connor.

The practice manager at the surgery, which is currently housed in premises in nearby Gray Avenue, declined to comment. But Durham City Council leader Fraser Reynolds said: "The practice wanted the surgery at that location and it is next to the leisure centre and play area.

"They wanted it next to other village amenities.

"It is all very well saying there are other suitable premises but the practice believe that location is the best option for their patients.

"The surgery will be built on a car park and we will not lose recreational land."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 8, 2004
Words:419
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