Published: 00:00, 15 April 2021
| Updated: 15:51, 15 April 2021
A traditional and integral ingredient of every children's play park is increasingly missing from sites across a district, say puzzled families.
Swings have disappeared from numerous locations, which parents say is limiting the fun factor for youngsters.
The issue has been raised with Canterbury City Council by Alex Lister who regularly takes his children to the Victoria Rec to play.
He says that while he was encouraged to see the new Legacy Park in Canterbury featuring a children’s play area, the loss of swings from existing sites was not being addressed by the city council.
"As a father of young children, I know how vital these installations are to families," he said.
"My children enjoy visiting our nearby play area in Victoria Park. Sadly, for many months, much of the play equipment has been damaged, or is missing.
"Requests to the council to replace the swings and repair the broken fixtures appear to have fallen on deaf ears and we have no idea when our play park may return to working order."
He added: "Lockdown has been highly detrimental to young children. For their social development and physical and mental wellbeing, we need get them outside playing with their friends again. Play parks are an important piece of the jigsaw in terms of community health."
Other people have complained about missing swings in their parks, including in Toddler's Cove, St Stephen's and Hersden, which some parents suggested could be due to social distancing requirements.
But the city council says the problem is largely down to getting parts for repairs and replacements.
"We understand the importance of children's play areas, which is why we continue to invest in new sites and refurbishing existing ones," said spokesman Rob Davies.
"The next new play area will be in the Dane John Gardens which we hope to have open early in 2022.
"Inevitably, given the fact they are open to the elements all the time and are also vulnerable to vandalism, there will be times when existing pieces of equipment have a problem. In these circumstances, we have to remove them in order to keep children safe and arrange repairs.
"Unfortunately, this can often be a lengthy process. Manufacturers can be very slow and parts are invariably needed from abroad, which causes further delays.
"We share residents' frustrations about this but sadly the timescale for the delivery of what we need is not within our control.
"We can reassure families that as soon as the relevant parts arrive, we get the repairs done as quickly as we can and get the equipment back in place for children to enjoy once again."