Play-area impasse remains

The James Street play area in Seahouses.
The James Street play area in Seahouses.

Everyone agrees that something needs to be done about the play areas in Seahouses, but finding a way forward is not so easy.

County councillor Guy Renner-Thompson asked why the parish council still paid a special expense of more than £3,000 to look after the play areas in the village, adding that North Sunderland was now the only parish in the county with this arrangement.

Coun Sylvia Hillan explained that the parish had said it would only take on the play areas if they were brought up to standard prior to transfer, something which the county council has not done, as well as having concerns about the cost of maintenance, insurance and safety inspections.

An additional sticking point is that the James Street play area is the only one that ‘belongs to the village’ with the other two being built as part of housing developments.

Coun Renner-Thompson said that he wants to get it sorted by the summer and, while he accepted the issues, suggested that the parish council was in the best position to look after the play parks, given its dissatisfaction with the county’s efforts.

He also highlighted that North Sunderland’s precept of £12,000 is far lower than equivalent than comparable parishes elsewhere, such as Rothbury, although he accepted that it was now not possible to hike the rates by a large amount in one go.