Masham playground set for an Easter reopening

Parents and children protesting outside the locked playground in Masham.
Parents and children protesting outside the locked playground in Masham.

Campaigning parents have welcomed the news work has begun to reopen Masham playground, which has been bolted shut for nine months.

The town’s park was closed in June after heavy rainfall made the ground unsafe and drainage problems have since persisted on the site – but the council have pledged to open the park again by spring.

Mother-of-two Lucy Scott-Paul – who owns Bah Humbugs sweet shop – said it is “brilliant news” the council are working to re-open the park, dubbed “The Rec” by local families.

“It’s wonderful news,” Mrs Scott-Paul, 35, said. “It’s great to hear something is being done and there will be somewhere to take the kids.”

Masham Parish Council chairman Coun Andrew Burrell met with Harrogate Borough Council’s principal parks officer on Friday, March 15 to “see what can be done to improve the situation”. Plans are underway to clean blocked drains on the site, place gravel soak aways around the skateboard park to prevent future flooding problems and power wash equipment and safety matting. The borough council will also cut the grass and hope to have the playground reopened by the Easter school holidays. A small area of the playground will also be fenced off after the unstable ground was deemed unsafe.

“Everyone is happy that it’s the way forward,” Coun Burrell told the Gazette. “It was a very helpful meeting and we are committed to getting the park open as soon as possible.”

But other campaigning parents have given the news a more cautious welcome. Father-of-two Jon Vennell, 41, who owns Vennell’s restaurant, said: “It would be good to get it open even for a short period and it’s positive that people are looking at it and not just leaving the shackles on the gate. But it’s more complex than that, especially if we have severe rainfall again. We’ll be back to square one and I’m not sure the gravel soak aways will be enough.”

The parish council lease the land from Swinton Estate, and the borough council provide the play area under an agreement with the parish council. Although it is not the borough council’s responsibility to carry out drainage works they have helped out the parish council as a goodwill gesture. A Harrogate Borough Council spokesman said: “The council is still in discussions with the parish council about what else it, as landowners, can do to alleviate the problems which are also exacerbated by the slope of the land and water running off higher land into the play area. They will keep monitoring the situation as both councils want it open as soon as possible.”