Scheme to raise funds for play park faces criticism

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A scheme to put up bunting as part of a bid to raise funds for a north Northumberland play park has faced criticism from some residents.

The aim of Bunting for Belford was to brighten up the village for the summer while raising funds for a new play park, but complaints have led to the flags being removed.

Tracy Bell, a parish councillor and organiser of the project, said: “The Bunting for Belford idea was never meant to be controversial, but it is good that residents are debating the issue of the regeneration of the Williams Way play park.

“The bunting represents support for the upgrade of the play park and is a positive way of showing residents how much money has been raised; a rather nicer way than the standard, old-fashioned thermometer.

“It must be stressed that the bunting will not be permanent. It will not hang around like the ‘tattered flags of war’, but will be removed to make room for the wonderful Belford Christmas lights and the fabulous New Year fireworks.

“Essentially, it’s a summer thing to add colour and a festival atmosphere to the village.”

The bunting idea was sparked by seeing how villages and towns in Yorkshire supported the Tour de France with paintings on houses, knitted images and the like – incidentally an idea it is hoped will be taken up by communities in Northumberland along the route of the Tour of Britain this September.

“Many places in our own area have gimmicks to draw in visitors, eg, scarecrows and flowerpots,” Tracy added.

“Bunting for Belford was a way of making the place more colourful/fun and amusing.”

She says support has been overwhelming. Within 24 hours of the appeal being launched in March this year, nearly 500 triangles had been made. Visitors to the day-care centre at Bell View have been knitting triangles.

Children are involved in the project too. Linings from old curtains have been turned into triangles and pupils at the first school have created designs.

Businesses have shown support by having collection tubs. The Blue Bell has given permission for a specially-designed banner to be hung and the Salmon Inn has raised nearly £500 from car-boot sales, while others are also planning events.