Local resident George Lyons successfully spearheaded the project to get Smithy Green Park re-opened
After the closure of Smithy Green Park on 4th August 2017, finally there is some good news. Local resident George Lyons, who has fronted the petition to get the park re-instated said: "The Formby Parish Council had requested that as well as a playground there should also be a multi-use sports area created. This meant that the contract had to go out to tender again. The contractor has now been chosen and work on our new playground and multi-use sports area will be started, hopefully by November."
"Even though there has been a delay, our local community will be gaining a fantastic facility in the near future to be used and enjoyed by families for years to come. Thank you all for your support and I will keep you updated if there are any changes."
George Lyons, a local resident, and a few other residents, attended a Parish Council meeting in October 2017 after the closure of the much loved park due to a child being injured when a corroded frame collapsed and petitioned the Council to help them get Smithy Green park re-opened.
Cllr Maria Bennett took up the cause on behalf of the Parish Council and the residents and was successful in obtaining £35,000 funding from Sefton Council. The Parish Council have committed a further £20,000 bringing the total budget spend to £55,000 and was all secured and in place in January 2018.
Cllr Maria Bennett, Chairman of Formby Parish Council, said: “The Parish Council have met with Sefton Officers and the Ravenmeols Ward Cllrs to review the design proposals for the reinstatement of the park. We had promised the residents from the area that they could view the proposals and have a say in what equipment went in. Members of the public were invited to meet with us on Saturday 30th June 2018 at Formby Library to see the design and for any input on choosing play equipment. I would like to thank George Lyons for all the work he put in to the petition.
George Lyons said: “I was very disappointed when I discovered the play ground at Smithy Green had been closed. Even though the original playground was poorly maintained, it was a safe place for our children to play. This is a really important community resource and I am very pleased that the play ground will now re-open. I would like to thank everyone that gave their support by signing the petition and Maria Bennett and the Parish council for their support in securing the funds to ensure that local children, now and in the future, will have a safe environment to play in."
A local resident praised George Lyons and said: "The entire project was spearheaded by local Dad, teacher and resident of smithy green, George Lyons. George created the awareness of the unannounced closer of the park, he challenged the council over it, pushed Cllr Page into doing something about it and even convinced (after negotiating a compromise with the council) the parish council to share the cost and get the park re-opened. Everyone involved knows it was George Lyons of Smithy Green that got this park reinstated."
You can see George Lyons updates and petition by clicking HERE
ORIGINAL STORY - AUGUST 2017
Residents are upset at losing their children's playground at Smithy Green Park. A notice on the playground says: "Playground closure - Due to essential safety works being required this site has been closed. The nearest alternate sites are at Alt Road and Duke Street Park. We apologise for any inconvenience during this time."
Residents were upset at the shock closure and the playground equipment removed and the area padlocked.
A spokesman for Sefton Council said: "The playground at Smithy Green, Formby is around 30 years old and while we have tried to sustain it with regular inspection and maintenance, the site has recently seen rapid deterioration.
"As a result we have decided to close the facility and decommission the old equipment which was done with Cabinet Member approval with ward councillors and Formby Parish Council also notified.
"While this is disappointing, the nearest alternative playground site to Smithy Green is at Alt Road which is just half a mile away. This site has received recent investment and along with nearby Duke Street Park, which also boasts a substantial playground, provision is still available for families to enjoy."
Cllr Maria Bennett responded as the Ward Councillor for Ravenmeols and not the Parish Council. Maria said: " I to am very upset that this park has been closed so suddenly and my own grandchildren have played here."
"There has been no consultation with the ward Councillors for Ravenmeols regarding its closure. I have also raised the issue with my meeting with Sefton Council last Monday and asked several questions in respect to how the park was allowed to get into such a state in the first place. I have raised issues with regard to this park both at the Council and also the Parish Council and in particular with regard to the cutbacks that have been made. I raised this issue 18 months ago and again only recently with the Parish Council when the information came out regarding which parks were going to be maintained and those that were not. I had concerns then as to what was going to happen to the parks that were not going to be fully maintained and felt the Parish Council should be in a position to take over their maintenance in order that they were still fully available to the public."
"It is quite clear that there has been a lack of funds made available to spend on this park. The question of "rapid deterioration" is something that needs to be answered. I am sure we can all agree that play equipment deteriorate over time and not "rapidly". The decision to close the park had already been made when I received the briefing note on Friday 21st July as they were closing it that day but I immediately raised my concerns at meeting with the officers on Monday 24th July but I am still waiting for a response."
"The argument that there is another local park nearby is really not acceptable in my opinion as children will be required to cross some very busy roads to access these facilities when they already had one on their doorstep. I would support any residents who want to fight this closure and work with them to try and reach a solution that would benefit both the Council and the local residents. Whilst there are constant cuts being imposed upon us which is affecting our public green spaces, parks and services this is not acceptable and we need to do something about it as a community as nobody else will help. I will certainly keep you and the residents informed as and when I get a response from the senior officers at Sefton Council."
"I also believe that if Sefton Council cannot or will not bring this park back into use then the Parish Council should fund a new playground and bring this park back to its former glory for all the children who live in that area. Is this not what we are all here to do, benefit the community. However if the Parish Council were to fund the park then this would come at a cost and would involve an increase in the already very small precept that is paid to the Parish Council from Sefton Council which is £8.01 (this is all the Parish Council receive) per year, per household. However I am sure if the residents wanted the parish council to fund the park then they would also be prepared to pay a little more per year to have this done but then that would be up to the people of Formby, but the precept is the only money that comes direct to Formby and which is only spent in Formby."
Formby Bubble asked the Parish Council on behalf of the residents that have asked, 'Can the Parish Council fund a new park for Smith Green and if not, why not?'
A spokesperson from the Parish Council said: "The Parish Council have been informed that the Smithy Green play park has been closed with immediate effect following a safety inspection by Sefton Council. The equipment is old and is considered unsafe. In answer to the question “Why can’t the Parish Council fund a new play park?”
"The Parish Council could decide to fund and maintain play areas such as this, but the cost of replacement and maintenance would fall entirely on the Parish Council and for the residents of Formby to finance through the parish precept. Maghull Town Council and Lydiate Parish Council do this already where the annual precept is considerably greater than ours in Formby."
"The Council will give the matter consideration, in its future plans."
Sefton Council Said: "The playground at Smithy Green, Formby is around 30 years old and, whilst the Council has endeavoured to sustain it with regular inspection and maintenance, the site has recently seen rapid deterioration. The current condition of the site is as follows:
1 - The swings have been found to have corroded and have collapsed, causing the injury to a child. The corrosion was internal to the tubes and not in view so the Council was not able to determine the condition of the frame.
2 - The slide is also causing us concern because there is surface corrosion to the foot treads and rails. The corrosion is advanced and beyond what steps we might normally take to address surface corrosion.
3 - The gym bars are showing signs of wear and we suspect there may also be internal corrosion. We cannot guarantee that this may not be advanced and collapse.
4 - The climbing frame is showing signs of deterioration and rusting.
5 - The site did have a timber roundabout but this was removed some years owing to its condition at that time. This was not replaced.
6 - The seesaw on site is no longer manufactured so the Council cannot buy spare parts.
7 - Tree roots are now damaging the tarmac surfacing on site.
8 - The surfacing on site is worsening with shrinkage. The rubber surfacing is over 18 years old and a typical rubber surface has a lifespan of 15 years if maintained and kept in good condition.
"As a consequence officers feel we must immediately recommend closure of this playground site to any public use and to decommission all equipment."
"If Cabinet Member is agreeable to the closure of this playground site, options may then be considered for the long term future of play at this location (bearing in mind available resources). These options will inevitably require local consultation with Ward and Parish Councillors, and the local community."