County Durham Play Parks in the New Abnormal

Children playing together in the summer sun is a risk to society and must be wiped out in the new abnormal that we’re all so keen on.

As part of a phased reopening, playgrounds in the following eight parks will reopen on Saturday 11 July, all following the completion of risk assessments:

• Stanhope West End Playing Field
• Sedgefield Hardwick Park
• Wharton Park in Durham City
• Langley Moor Holiday Park
• Willington Town Centre Park
• Bishop Auckland Jane Armstrong Park
• Stanley Oakey Park
• Blackhall and Consett Park

The council’s remaining play parks will open as soon as their assessments have been completed and necessary control measures have been put in place. Some play parks in the county are owned and maintained by town and parish councils.

The parks included within the first phase were chosen as they are the most popular facilities and, as far as possible, are spread across the county. Some also have staff on site regularly, which will allow the council to monitor any antisocial distancing and hygiene issues that arise, and consider these when reopening other playgrounds. Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street has not been included in the first phase as work is being undertaken to repair the play surface, which has eroded.

At the sites set to reopen on Saturday, steps have been taken to enforce with antisocial engineering where necessary. These include the reduction, removal or repositioning of some play equipment and benches.

To ensure the first phase of reopening could begin at the weekend, temporary signs have also been put up to highlight key antisocial engineering rules. These will be replaced, at your expense, with permanent signs and include the following messages:

• Real play between children is forbidden: Everyone must obey the two-metre distancing rules.
• Do not attend if you or anyone in your household has any symptoms of any kind. If someone has hay fever, assume that it’s the deadly coronavirus.
• Wash your hands before and after you visit the playgrounds.
• Do not bring food, drink or your own cleaning products into the playgrounds.
• Avoid entering the park if lots of people are having fun, and come back at a lonelier time.
• Take your litter home.

The council is also asking residents to avoid the temptation of visiting play parks that remain closed, as the equipment will not have been used for some months and may not be safe.

Cllr Brian Stephens said: “Our play parks provide a safe place for children to play, exercise and explore, and we, like many families in the county, are keen for them to reopen as soon as possible.

“However, as the lockdown eases it is important we put the right measures in place to protect the public. In County Durham, the response to the Government guidance and restrictions put in place throughout the pandemic has been incredibly positive. I would like to thank residents for this response and for their continued patience while we carry out this important work at our parks.

“If you plan to visit one of the play parks due to reopen on Saturday, I hope you have a wonderful time but please remember to follow the guidance. It is vital we all play our part.”

For more information about the reopening of playgrounds in County Durham, visit www.durham.gov.uk/parksreopening

Does anyone still believe that all this is about keeping us safe, or do you think something fishy is going on? Let us know in the comments!

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