A woman has staged a sit-in protest against the removal of a village basketball hoop.
After watching council contractors rip up the children’s play park near her home, mother-of-three Georgina Dale felt compelled to save what was remaining.
Demolition of the play area in Neeld Close, in Yatton Keynell near Chippenham, began on Monday morning (29 January) – after it was found to be in a state of disrepair having been unmaintained for years.
Georgina believed the basketball court and hoop next to it – regularly used by her children – were in good nick and told of how the nearest alternative park is the other side of the village.
In a bid to encourage Wiltshire Council to leave it alone, she spent all of the day, and part of Tuesday (30 January), sat on a chair in the way of the contractors.
Other commitments got in the way of the 44-year-old’s one-woman protest and the basketball court was ripped up and replaced with soil.
She said: “I moved here in 2015 and there was a play area – and that was part of the reason that I moved here. My children have grown up using the play area and my teenager regularly uses the basketball court.
“it’s people’s children and grandchildren. And it’s even the adults around the area that remember using the play park here as children themselves. Everybody is, is hugely disappointed.”
Georgina said she’s fought the demolition of the village’s only council-managed park, and has urged the parish council to replace it as a matter of urgency.
When asked what she wanted to achieve by the protest, she said: “I would love for them to put a stay on the basketball area, to keep that available for the time being.
“Once it’s all removed, despite some verbal assurances from the parish council, I don’t believe that the parish council will put anything in here other than maybe some plants and shrubs, which was their initial suggestion as a replacement to a play park.
“Yes, it’s easier to maintain, but it’s not an ideal replacement for the play park that the children had.”
After Georgina’s posts in a local community group, local councillor Alistair Parker issued a statement.
He wrote: “The work to remove the play equipment in Clarks Leaze has now started.
“It had been hoped that the MUGA [Multi Use Games Areas] would be retained but on closer inspection it was clear that the tarmac (not now a preferred surface) was breaking up and that if the MUGA was to be retained, a new surface would inevitably be needed.
“In the circumstances it was deemed better to remove the old MUGA and consider replacing it as part of the consultation process on the future use of the whole area.
“To allay any concerns it is fully intended that the whole area will remain available for recreational use. Once the old equipment has been removed and the ground restored we will move ahead with consulting on the future usage.”
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