By Isabella Cipirska
A mother has started a crowd-funding campaign to raise money to improve a playground in Bevendean after a petition calling on the council for repairs gained more than 770 signatures.
Claire Jacobs, 31, and other families in Lower Bevendean want broken equipment in Farm Green playground to be fixed and repaired and new pieces suitable for different ages installed.
Since the petition, only two pieces of equipment have been repaired by the council, so the community is taking up the challenge of raising the funds for improvements themselves.
Ms Jacobs said: “We need money to hire people to do plans and drawings. It will all depend on what we can raise. A typical park can cost at least £25,000 to refurbish.”
Key problem areas in the playground identified by Ms Jacobs include the slippery mouldy ground and the rotten benches which need to be replaced.
“We desperately need something decent,” she said. “If they’ve not even got a decent free park, what do children do when they’re bored? Kids need to run. They need to be healthy. I want a better park for my little boy.”
According to the Index of Multiple Deprivation, 44 per cent of children in Bevendean live in poverty.
Ms Jacobs said: “We are forgotten about. Bevendean is a very deprived area and has always missed out. There’s no youth centre, no children’s centre, nothing.
“Families in Bevendean can’t afford to go to other parks. They don’t have cars. There’s nothing for kids to do.”
The launch of the crowd-funding campaign comes two months after Jayne Van Rensburg, a mother of two from Bevendean, presented a petition to Brighton and Hove City Council at Brighton Town Hall.
Mrs Van Rensburg said at the meeting: “Quite simply we are asking for the council to treat our children the same way as it treats the children who use just about every other brilliantly varied park in Brighton and Hove.
“The lack of action to maintain the playground has led to a slow decline rendering the park almost derelict, unsafe and with families unwilling to use it. Give our children somewhere safe they can play.”
Acknowledging the council’s financial challenges, she asked for a modest investment in the playground and also raised the possibility of grants and other sources of funding.
Councillor Daniel Yates, who represents Moulsecoomb and Bevendean Ward, praised the community-led campaign.
He said: “It is great to see the local community working together to get improvements made.
“For many families the park is a crucial lifeline, especially now that the weather is improving. It is a shame that every park doesn’t yet have a full schedule of repair and improvement.”
While parents welcomed the repairs to the baby swing and net swing that followed the petition, they said that more work was needed to achieve the safe and inclusive social space they envisioned.
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