Playground Victory for Junior Parish Council


November 21, 2019 - 687 views

Report by Steve Edwards

Weedon Bec Junior Parish Council (JPC) invited Daventry Radio reporter Steve Edwards to one of their council meetings this week to talk about the work they’ve been doing and plans for their future projects in Weedon Village.

Led by Parish Councillor Fiona Thomas, the group set up their ‘council chamber’ in one of the meeting rooms at Weedon Bec Primary School and as soon as the meeting was called to order they excitedly explained what they’d been doing whilst very quickly devouring a large packet of chocolate biscuits!

Weedon Bec JPC Meet with Councillor Fiona Thomas

JPC Chair, Eeva (12) said, “We were bored of the babyish playground equipment that was in the Croft Way playing fields and it had got old and was always getting broken. So, we made some plans and got some pictures of equipment that would be useful to the younger kids and the older ones.”

Eeva went on to explain how the project started almost three years ago and how the pictures and plans were put to a vote for the village children to have their say in what equipment they wanted. She said, “We had a few problems getting an agreement and some of the things people wanted we couldn’t do at the moment. Like a skate park, a climbing wall and a bigger slide with twisty bits. We had to think about the space we had and how much it would all cost.”

Vice Chair, Sofia (12), said, “A lot of the children also wanted to have equipment that was made of recyclable or recycled material because a lot of the old equipment was metal and had flaky paint which isn’t good for children and sometimes the younger ones eat it.” Sofia explained that they now have benches and a picnic table made from recycled plastic and a lot of the play equipment is made from wood which comes from sustainable sources.

Committee member, Harry (13), said, “In the end the most popular equipment that people wanted was a roundabout, a climbing frame, some rocking horses, swings and a slide. Also, the muddy old pathway that many children used has now been replaced with a proper path which is much better.”

One of the children present said that she was pleased about that because it meant that her mum didn’t have to struggle with the baby buggy when she was going to and from school with her little brother. She added, “It’s been great working together and being able to discuss things properly and I’m really glad about getting a big climbing frame. That’s my favourite.”

Another child said, “It’s much better for people with scooters and bikes and it’s much easier now for people with wheelchairs.”

Councillor Thomas, who has been the coordinator for the JPC as part of her portfolio on the Parish Council, explained the complicated process that the JPC had to go through to get financial support for the project, which had secured £14,700 from Daventry District Council and £30,000 from the Weedon Parish Council.

She said, “The JPC have done really well and worked well as a team. They helped with the grant applications including submitting the paperwork to get the funding. Their insistence on using sustainable materials in the playground was a key feature of the application and I think they were one of the main reasons we were successful.

Parish Councillor Fiona Edwards was also on hand and said, “It’s such a pleasure to see the hard work the children have put in and the Parish Council were very pleased to be able to help out financially. The finished playground is superb quality and they should be very proud of themselves.”

Asked about future projects that the JPC had their eye on, Eeva and Harry spoke about a plan for a recycling/upcycling event where children and parents "Could bring an item that they didn’t need any more or that didn’t fit and swap it for another item of clothing or something else like a household item". Eeva added, “We are still working out how it will work, but if you bring something you can take something or something like that or like a mini-boot fair - and it will be after Christmas so we’ve got lots of time to plan it.”

Harry, who lives on a narrowboat on the Grand Union Canal in the village, has become the JPC champion for all things canal-related and spoke about the campaign he has to stop fly-tipping at the roadside ‘Biffa-Bins’ by the canal which are there for the sole use of the canal residents and supplied by the Canals and Rivers Trust. He said, “The canal is my back garden and I want to see it treated properly and kept nice.”

The meeting became very animated when asked about improvements they would like to see around the village and didn’t hold back as they vividly described how dog fouling was spoiling their walks around the village as well as causing damage to walls and brickwork. Councillor Thomas said, “It’s not nice when the children are playing football and the ball gets dog poo all over it.”

One child, who had not said much up until now, gave a graphic account of a speeding vehicle that had hit a pedestrian in front of him. He said, “We was walking past the old people’s home and this car came bombing along and hit this old man. An ambulance came and he got taken to hospital. Everyone was very upset for ages. I think we should get a 20 miles an hour speed limit – especially because the school is in the middle of the village.”

The JPC are all volunteers and seem very committed and enthusiastic. Although they all started in years 5 & 6 they have now all moved on to middle schools around the area there are plans for a new recruitment campaign at the village school which will take place in January next year.

Asked to sum up the whole experience, Councillor Thomas beamed proudly and said, “The children always spoke about the park as a boring place but now they really love going there and it’s become more of an after-school destination. When their parents come to take them home, I love to hear the children saying, “I want to go to the park!.” That makes us all very happy.”

 Photos by permission of Weedon Bec Parish Council & Parents

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