Playground improvements put on ice after doubts over money
The final phase of the programme this year would have seen eight Calderdale playgrounds refurbished at a cost of 388,000 and the council has been working on the plans with residents and the community.
One scheme, at Dodnaze, Hebden Bridge, will still go ahead as work had already started on building the new playground, which is expected to open in mid August. However the Department of Education has asked Calderdale Council to suspend all work on the other seven schemes, until a decision on funding is made in late August.
The schemes which have been affected are: Lane Head recreation ground in Brighouse ward; Ainley recreation ground in Elland ward; Beechwood (Kingsley Avenue) in Ryburn ward; Caddyfields in Town ward; Pellon recreation ground (Sandbeds) in Warley ward; Conway Street in Park ward and Copley recreation ground in Skircoat ward.
Councillor Diane Park, who represents the Elland ward, said: "It makes me really sad and cross and frustrated that children have to suffer when it is grown ups who have made a mess of the country's finances. The playgrounds should be up to standard.
"Children should have the chance to play in a good, well-maintained play area.
"We should not be cutting funding for essential play areas because then children have to play in places that are unsuitable and that is when there are accidents. The children should not be suffering for the mistakes of the adults. We should be looking after our children."
Ms Park added that if Ainley recreation ground were to be improved it would be well used.
Councillor Robert Pearson, who represents the Warley ward, said: "I think it's a shame but that applies to most financial things at the moment I'm afraid. There is no good news about on things that cost money that have not already been started. The sooner we find out how long the delay is for and get it going again, the better.
"I do not think that anyone would disagree that it is a shame that it has been put on hold. I don't think many people would disagree that it is inevitable in the circumstances that things we would like to proceed have got to be put on hold until we know what is and what's not affordable.
"The only glimmer of any good news is that it's on hold rather than cancelled but we will not know the detail as to when it will start again for quite some time."
The Playbuilder programme has already seen 14 playgrounds in Calderdale refurbished and rebuilt over three years.
In 2008, Calderdale was awarded 1,171,000 to refurbish 22 playgrounds under the government's Children's Plan.
A total of 235m was allocated nationwide over the three-year programme to build or upgrade more than 3,500 playgrounds.
Councillor David O 'Neill, Calderdale Council's Cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: "Local people have been heavily involved in drawing up plans for the Playbuilder refurbishments and we want to keep them informed while we await a final decision on funding for the projects.
"We will continue to do all we can to provide the best possible play facilities for the people of Calderdale. However, withdrawal of this funding will severely affect our ability to deliver the above schemes, as they are reliant upon this external grant."