Councillors approve controversial plan to remodel play area
PUBLISHED: 09:26 10 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:33 14 February 2018
An issue that has been dividing a town for years was seemingly put to bed at a council meeting.
The Tiffey Room in Central Hall, Wymondham was packed with members of the public as all but one councillor voted in favour of re-configuring play equipment at King’s Head Meadow.
The remodelling of the play area will see equipment moved away from the residential boundary and a new 2.5m high wooden fence erected 8m in from the current perimeter fence.
The controversy began in 2014 when £75,000 worth of play equipment, known as the playscape, was installed on the site. Soon after its completion, neighbouring residents on Orchard Way complained of noise and anti-social behaviour.
After a series of discussions, councillors voted in favour of removing the playscape. However, this plan was scuppered after a week-long protest in August 2016 prevented contractors from carrying out the work and consultations were resumed.
In a further meeting, six councillors voted to move the equipment and six voted to formulate a sub-master plan, which would involve remodelling the equipment. Mayor of Wymondham, Robert Savage, cast the deciding vote to form the sub-master plan.
Frustration with the protracted nature of the dispute was echoed by numerous councillors at Tuesday’s meeting.
Councillor Suzanne Nuri said: “This issue has divided Wymondham for a long time and in future we should work towards compromise.”
However, fellow councillor Peter Broome, who abstained from the vote, had a differing view.
He said: “I think it is just a shame that it is the residents who have to make the compromise.”
Having approved the proposed re-configuration, councillors and members of the public raised concerns about the aesthetics and cost of the new fence, as well as the potential for anti-social behaviour in the void that would be created between the new fence and the original fence.
On closing the matter, Mr Savage said these issues could be discussed at a later date now that a forward plan had been agreed.
He said: “This is the first time we have reached a compromise that everybody is happy with.”
At this point, Mr Savage was interrupted by a heckle which typified the drawn-out dispute, “I wouldn’t say happy,” shouted one member of the public.