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Parents and councillors call for safe play areas after a spate of vandalism, developers not maintaining playgrounds, and a lack of amenities

By Lizzie Massey

A campaign to ensure Medway’s youngsters have somewhere safe to play is drumming up support from councillors and parents.

After a spate of vandalism, developers falling short of commitments and a lack of amenities for youths in certain parts of the Towns, the Messenger launched the Somewhere to Play appeal.

Roseberry Road park in Rochester was one of those to fall victim to vandalism, and ward councillor Sylvia

Monika and Gary Barwell with baby daughter Lena in the play area in Hoo which has been plagued by yobs

Griffin (Con) said: “When I was a young girl we used to take ourselves off to the woods for the day with a jam sandwich and that was it, but there’s so much going on now you can’t let young children out of your sight.

“Having a park for people to go to and parents to be able to meet at is very important.

“The council are working to look after these areas but they do not have the resources to police them constantly.”

The Messenger is calling for:

  • Medway Council to improve the play areas we have and provide facilities which cater to children from toddlers to teenagers.
  • Developers to honour their promises and build safe, high-quality areas appropriate for the ages of their target market, and to sustain them as they grow.
  • Better monitoring of parks and health and safety checks to prevent injuries as well as vandalism.
  • Magistrates to get tough on vandals and arsonists caught destroying these areas.

Gary Barwell and his wife Monika dreamed of bringing their 18-month-old daughter up in the safe environment of a Medway village but that was shattered when yobs knocked a neighbour’s son unconscious in The Pastures estate park in Hoo.

Mr Barwell, 36, said: “Our daughter, Lena, wants to go out all the time and she’s climbing the walls if she is in the house.

“Kids need to be out, playing and learning and getting worn out so they sleep through the night.”

Anchor Green, Upnor. Group protesting at lack of plaing facilities.

The sales engineer has had an ongoing battle with Taylor Wimpey, the developer of the estate, about the park and added: “Developers need to be held to account for these areas, but the council do as well.

“They bang on about how important it is to have these areas before planning permission is granted but take no action when the developers aren’t keeping their promises.

“As well as parks for the younger children, we need to see more for older children and teenagers.

Campaign logo

“They shouldn’t be hanging around on baby swings, they ought to have access to multi-sport courts or open spaces to play ball games and ride their bikes in.”

Last week 13-year-old Alex Lucas started a campaign to get such a court built in Upnor, as there is nowhere for the group of 20 children in the area to kick a ball around safely.

Cllr Sylvia Griffin (on left) and team by Rochester castle

His ward councillors Peter Hicks (Con) and Tom Mason (Con) both said they support the campaign and agreed on the importance of somewhere for youngsters to play.

Cllr Hicks said: “For a mulit-sport court you’re looking at something like £80,000, that’s a substantial amount of money.

“But if Mr Lucas would like to write to me I will certainly look more into it.”

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