Parish councillors are keen to take on responsibility for both of the main parks in Wooler and moves are under way to look at the costs involved.
At Monday’s meeting of Wooler Parish Council, members heard from Emma Evans, green spaces officer at Northumberland County Council, who talked through the various options.
There are three play areas in Wooler, which the county council wants to hand over to the parish in terms of responsibility.
The play area in Scott’s Park is a simple matter as the parish council already owns the land; it would simply involve maintaining, insuring and carrying out safety checks on the play equipment.
Bryson’s Park – both the play area and the surrounding park – is owned by the county council at present.
Town and county councillor Anthony Murray proposed taking on responsibility for the whole lot in Bryson’s Park, including the freehold for the land, which would not cost anything outside transfer and legal fees, and the play area in Scott’s Park.
Members agreed to this, but the two sets of swings in The Martins are in a different situation as housing association Four Housing owns them.
There are three options for the transfer of play areas. The first is an agency agreement, where the county council keeps the land, but the parish is responsible for maintainance and insurance. The other two are freehold and leasehold, which incur legal costs.
Currently, the county council adds a special expense on the council-tax bill to maintain play areas. In Wooler, this is £1,600, so if the parish council added this to its precept next year, the taxpayer would be paying the same amount overall.