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14/3/07 – Residents angry over play area error

Dale Heenan
  • On March 14, 2007

First printed in the Swindon Advertiser 14th March 2007.

RESIDENTS in Covingham were furious to find diggers cutting up a green space next to their homes.

Work started on Monday to build a play area in Smitan Brook which has brought contractors to within feet of their homes.

On Monday night residents descended on a meeting of Coving-ham Parish Council to voice their anger about not being consulted.

Digging was halted yesterday morning as Covingham Parish Council officials realised that the play area was being built in the wrong place.

The council chairman Douglas Haigh said that it would be moved to the centre of the field.

Gilling Way resident Geoff Smith, 65, went to the public meeting and met councillors on the park yesterday.

He said: “The only notice we got was a small leaflet more than a year ago.

“It asked us if we had any objections to a new park, which was drawn on a map in the middle of the grass.

“We didn’t hear anything else until Monday morning, when a giant container was dumped by the road and diggers started by the houses.” The digging started at the end of Gilling Way, a cul-de-sac, working uphill from a pavement towards the centre of the green space.

The original plan proposed a 50ft-long path leading into the play area, well away from the entrance to Gilling Way.

But instead a digger cut a short path opposite the driveways for Gilling Way and adjoining St Ambrose Close.

Mr Smith said: “They have put a container down, which means the residents on the end can’t get their car in without driving over the verge.

“A group of us went to the parish council and told them they had it all wrong, so they agreed to come out and have a look.”

Edwin Billington, a 67-year-old resident of St Ambrose Close, only discovered work had started when he opened his front door yesterday morning.

He said: “I’ve lived here for 30 years and I remember when there was another park on the field.

“It wasn’t a problem for young children, but at night there were groups of teenagers causing noise and damage.”

Gilling Way resident Pat Bennell, 59, said: “They used to rip up the rubber floor of the play area. You want young people playing sport out there, but when people are out to be anti-social it’s a different matter.”

Mr Haigh said: “There was a meeting on Monday and several residents were unhappy with the work that was going on.

“Members of the parish council visited the site and it seems there was an error, so it was agreed that work should be halted.

“A meeting has been set up with the contracting manager to start work at the correct location and we hope that will be as soon as possible.

“The residents were upset and with good reason when you look at what happened.”


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