Play area reopens after first spruce-up in many years

By Barrie Hudson - 17 July 2020


The refurbished Cambria Bridge Play Area has reopened after work was interrupted by the covid-19 pandemic.

  • South Swindon Parish Council vice chair Janine Howarth and chair Chris Watts at the newly-refurbished play area

    South Swindon Parish Council vice chair Janine Howarth and chair Chris Watts at the newly-refurbished play area

South Swindon Parish Council invested £60,000 in the project, which includes a new soft surface, climbing frames, swings and a see-saw.

The upgrade is part of a rolling program of play area improvements the Parish Council is making. The previous play area refurbishment was at GWR Park, which opened in late February. 

Work took 10 weeks, although there was an enforced lay-off due to the lockdown.

South Swindon Parish Council chair Chris Watts said of the project: "It really began in 2017 when the parish council came into being. We ended up with the responsibility for 19 playgrounds. We recognised that there had been very little investment into these playgrounds, so we started a project of renovating them, getting them back up to spec and making sure they were safe for the kids.

"This playground was in particular need of renovation and I'm really pleased."

Parish councillor Marina Strinkovsky said: "We live in a world where - especially with the pandemic but even before that - parents are nervous about letting their kids out by themselves.

"That is for perfectly reasonable reasons but it also unfortunately results in kids not really getting a feel for the outdoors, kids not seeing nature, kids not learning how to enjoy their bodies, how to play in movement.

"There is all this stuff about screen time and kids not leaving their bedrooms. I think a lot of it is overblown, but it is nevertheless the case that all children need and deserve a safe outside space in which to learn to use their bodies, learn to move, enjoy physical activity, enjoy being adventurous, learn not to be afraid, climb up things, jump off things, learn to conquer any fears that they may have.

"It's not just incredibly important for their development - it's just really important for their happiness.

"I think we worry a little too much about their ultimate development. Will this playground result in more children from Swindon going to university? I don't think we can tell - but will it result in kids being happier today, especially after four months of being locked in the house?

"One hundred percent!"  

Council vice-chair Janine Howarth said: "It's been roughly 20 years since it was last refurbished, so it was sadly in need even though it was really popular and people made the best of what they'd got at the time. 

"Swindon Borough Council allowed it to deteriorate over the years so it's really nice to see it, having been refurbished and at last opened."

Fellow parish councillor Junab Ali said:  "As a parish, we looked at every single play area to see which ones were in desperate need of refurb.

"This was one of them - which really needed refurbishment.

"You need a green space and a playing space because otherwise what do these young kids have to do - especially with the lockdown?

"Now the lockdown is ending slowly, this will be something really nice for the young families and get their children to be themselves, to be free."

Another parish councillor, Dave Griffiths, agreed: "It is important that these things are out and about. It means young children can go out and get some exercise. 

"Speaking as chairman of the Youth Working Party it means that we're providing something for the youth of the parish. The knock-on effect is that if they're out here, taking part in activities in the play scheme, there's  a possibility that it could inspire them later on to be active - which means they may be healthier as an adult or teenager." 

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