Newey Park

A community playground for Hall Green?

In November last year, local councillors from all parties, youth workers, community groups, educational representatives of South and City College and constituency officers met at the District Convention to discuss the needs of children and young people in the wider district and in each of the Hall Green Wards. There were a series of talks from Youth and Education officers from Birmingham City Council together with input from the assistant principal of the College, the Chair of Governors from Joseph Chamberlain College and Councillor Tony Kennedy.

All councillors representing the Hall Green Ward and representatives from local community groups and youth service providers discussed how best we could engage children and young people in Hall Green and a clear consensus was reached on the need to ensure that Hall Green had adequate provision and services to meet the needs of the 7,000 children and young people across the Ward, and the need to identify more spaces and places for young people to meet.

Unfortunately, this consensus seems to have been abandoned at this months Ward meeting at which residents from a local housing estate were in attendance solely to oppose the proposals for the installation of much needed playground equipment at Newey Goodman.

The case put forward in opposition was that any installation would result in an increase of anti social behaviour and criminal activity. This is not borne out by research undertaken by the local police neighbourhood team and could not be quantified.

Despite the Liberal Democrat Councillor not adopting a position of opposition at a previous meeting at which these plans were introduced, it now appears that she has decided not to support this proposal for additional provision of services for children and young people in Hall Green.

Consultation that has been undertaken by Hall Green BLP has found real support for these proposals which would give Hall Green a brand new playground with facilities catering for both children and young people.

Currently there is only one small park in Hall Green at Marion Way and despite plans to renovate the park next month, this existing provision is far from  adequate and in comparison to surrounding Wards, it is clear that the children and young people in Hall Green Ward are being short changed and let down in terms of the services and provision available to them.

It is seemingly a natural reaction to oppose change in the first instance but the current opposition to the playground proposals for Newey Goodman appears to be based on little more than ‘nimbyism’ on the one hand and the hope of some political point scoring on the other.

As we face impending reductions in council funded provision of non statutory services across Birmingham this adds up to a very real problem for the children and young people growing up in Hall Green.

The recent launch of the mobile play service was a real step in the right direction, alongside the youth project running at Highfield Hall but these are temporary solutions and do not make up for a lack of permanent playground facilities.

We need to welcome proposals that would result in an increase in services for our children and young people. How can we sit back and refuse our children and young people such provision?

Wherever any new such provision is proposed, it is always going to be in someone’s back yard, and is always going to be opposed by a minority. We need to stand together as a community and see the bigger picture and how we ensure the very best deal for our children and young people. We have the chance of doing this now with a real opportunity to have a  ‘community playground’ in Hall Green, but in order to realise this, we need first to become a real community.

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Play facilities for HG?

Local councillor Barry Bowles has been concerned for some time about the lack of play facilities in Hall Green. After discovering that the Ward, where one in four people are under 16, only had  one small playground, he felt duty bound to try and do something about it.

Currently, the only playground facilities available are in Marion Way, but these facilities are themselves in need of renovation and are vastly inadequate to meet the needs of the 7,000 children and young people that we have living in the Ward.

As Ward Chair, Cllr Bowles has been in discussions with council officers in an attempt to provide more facilities and draft proposals for both a playground and basketball court at Newey Park were presented at a recent Ward meeting.

First look at the plans show that a great deal of time and thought have been put in to produce a creative and well thought out plan for these facilities and a full consultation will be held across Hall Green over the next few months.

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