Play areas will not be transferred to parish

Seahouses play area
Seahouses play area

Councillors in Seahouses have once again refused to take over responsibility for the play areas, due to concerns over the financial burden.

Northumberland County Council is in the process of transferring a number of assets, such as bins, benches, bus shelters and parks, to town and parish councils wherever possible.

At Monday night’s meeting of North Sunderland Parish Council, the chairman, Coun Geoffrey Stewart, said: “It’s that time of year when they try to hand over the three play areas.”

The main play area is on James Street, while there are two more elsewhere in the village – on Kingsfield and in Castle Close.

Coun Stewart added: “If we were to take one on, it would be the village one (James Street). The other two are on private estates. They won’t let us take on one and not the other two and I don’t think we should have to take those on.”

The refusal means that the county council will continue to add a special expense to the council tax – £3,024, plus a likely one per cent rise for inflation.

Figures provided show that the safety inspections at the three play areas cost £2,300 a year, while essential repairs in the past year totalled £616 at James Street, £220 at Kingsfield and £120 at Castle Close, taking the bill to £3,256 – more than the special expense charge.

The downside of not taking on responsibility is that the county council has said that if any equipment comes to the end of its life, it will not be replaced.