Work soon in full swing at play area

The existing play area at The Stray, Lightcliffe, which the newly formed group, Friends of The Stray is hoping to refurbish
The existing play area at The Stray, Lightcliffe, which the newly formed group, Friends of The Stray is hoping to refurbish

WORK will start on improving a Lightcliffe park over the next three weeks.

Friends of the Stray, a group of parents and residents, has secured £35,000 from Calderdale Council’s capital programme after being included in a list of 12 sites in the Play Area Improvement Plan 2011-2016 and £10,000 from the section 106 agreements to give The Stray a complete makeover.

The money, £45,000 in total, will help to fund a standing stone (similar to a climbing wall), a free rider, two climbing frames, and some swings.

Further improvements had been planned for the park but the ideas had to be dropped because the group were unsuccessful with an application for £50,000 grant aid.

But the group is determined not to give up on its plight to improve the area and is hoping that it will be able to secure an extra £7,000 for some goals and boulders and £3,000 for the willow arches and natural play elements.

Chair of the group, Rachael Burdin, said they were disappointed to lose out on the grant. “We have had to revise the plans and take quite a lot of things out but we feel we are still left with a pretty good scheme.”

She hoped the work would start in the next three weeks and should be completed in the middle of April. “We are looking at having a big open event and mini fete in May to official open the park but that date is only provisional at the moment,” she said.

As part of a questionnaire relating to the possible refurbishment of the park back in April last year 98.5 per cent of people said they were in favour of seeing the play equipment being replaced.

Those in favour of a new look said the site will be used more once redesigned and that any improvements to keep children occupied and outside in the fresh air can only be good.

To make sure that the children did want to play in the park they were asked which equipment they wanted.

“We wanted to try and give the children everything they wanted but the funds have limited some of what we can provide. We are still short of funds for the goals and the willow arches but we are still applying for grants and asking people for donations,” said Rachael.

“The standing stones were the most popular with the youngsters and the willow arches were third so it would be nice if we could find some funds to provide them.

“The group has worked very hard to reach this stage and are really pleased that something is now happening. Even though we have lost out on £50,000 we think the architects have done a fantastic job and we think the end result is really positive and will be fantastic for the youngsters in the area.

“We know with the current financial climate we were extremely lucky to receive any capital money from Calderdale.”

The group has the full backing and support from Councillor Graham Hall (Con, Hipp/Light) who is also on the committee.

“I am really pleased with the work done by the Friends of the Stray in pulling this project together and for the funding that we were able to obtain from the Council. It is a credit to local parents and the staff involved from the council,” he said.

Anyone who would like to contact the group or is interested in making a donation can email friendsofthestray@yahoo.co.uk