Members approved £204,000 of spending at this week’s meeting of the county council’s cabinet, with the remaining £83,000 funded by contributions from the likes of town and parish councils.
As part of its medium-term financial plan, the local authority has already set aside capital funding of £150,000 per year from 2018-19 to 2020-21 to invest in parks and green spaces.
So far, money has been spent at Jennings Field in Bedlington, Astley Park in Seaton Delaval, and Eastwood Park in Prudhoe.
Following the sign-off on Tuesday (January 15), Blyth’s Ridley Park and Mermaid play area, Alexandra Park in Cramlington, Gallagher Park in Bedlington, and Rothbury’s Riverside play area are all set to benefit.
At Ridley Park, £45,000 will be spent in total – £25,000 to refurbish the hugely-popular water play area, where key equipement ‘has reached the end of its serviceable life’, and £20,000 to replace items in the other play areas.
Elsewhere in the town, £50,000 is to be used ‘to significantly enhance the Mermaid play area and ensure it continues to meet the expectations of local people and visitors’, with several pieces of equipment at the end of their life following installation more than 10 years ago.
In Cramlington, the town council is creating a community garden on the site of a former putting green by the bowling green in Alexandra Park, with a half-pit wheel – ‘a central focus feature’ – already installed.
Additional works to install paths, fencing, seating and picnic tables, plus tree, shrub and flower planting, have been estimated at £50,000, with the town council providing £30,000 and local member Coun Alan Hepple £5,000. The county council will contribute the remaining £15,000.
Meanwhile, the report to councillors explains: ‘Gallacher Park, on the site of the old Bedlington A and B pits, has seen significant improvements over recent years with the construction of a new community pavilion, a BMX track, mountain-bike tracks and self-guided walking trails.
‘However, the park has a very poor quality and not-fit-for-purpose children’s play area.’
The Friends of Gallagher Park and the local ward member have agreed to contribute a total of £10,000 towards an improved play facility and the county council will put in £56,000 for a total pot of £66,000.
In Rothbury, the county council is still the owner and responsible for the Riverside play area, as the parish council has declined to adopt it due to its poor condition.
Following discussions over the past 18 months or so, a joint investment of £38,000 each has been agreed to completely refurbish the site with new equipment, after which the parish council will take on the responsibility for future maintenance.
Coun Glen Sanderson, the cabinet member for local services, said: “This is significant investment into some very important parks. It will benefit not just residents, but also increasing numbers of visitors.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service