DCSIMG

Sports area closed amid safety fears

Play fears: Roy Boyes and Len Woods are concerned at the deteriorating state of the multi-use games area on Fishers Field in South Shore. Len (left) and Roy highlight the loose and low hanging netting

Play fears: Roy Boyes and Len Woods are concerned at the deteriorating state of the multi-use games area on Fishers Field in South Shore. Len (left) and Roy highlight the loose and low hanging netting

A sports area has been closed off for a second time in as many months amid fears that children “trampolining” on its net roof could be seriously hurt.

Father of two, Roy Boyes, 49, was walking his dog in Fisher’s Field park off Highfield Road, South Shore, on May 16 when he saw six boys and girls jumping on netting above the multi-use games area (MUGA).

He watched in horror as part of the netting broke under their weight, and sagged down over the artificial pitch, which is used by youngsters playing football and basketball. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but Mr Boyes took pictures of the youngsters - some as young as around 11 - and passed them onto police.

Blackpool Council says it closed the area eight weeks ago, but Mr Boyes said it did not properly repair the netting before re-opening the facility a fortnight later.

He said children were continuing to climb onto it - and that three metal poles supporting the roof had bent under the youngsters’ weight.

Mr Boyes, a carer, added that residents at a Police and Community Together meeting on Tuesday had been read a letter from a council official by ward councillor Peter Hunter assuring them the area was safe.

But yesterday the council closed the MUGA again “in the interests of safety” - just hours after a call from The Gazette about Mr Boyes’ concerns.

“Someone is going to get hurt unless this is dealt with” said Mr Boyes, of Kingsmede, whose 10-year-old son Owen sometimes plays football at the MUGA.

“And who is going to be liable? I tried shouting at these children but they just laughed at me and by the time the police came they had gone.

“We were told at the PACT meeting that the area was safe but how could it have been when the netting was still hanging down and was draped across the floor?”

Highfield Road resident Len Woods, who had also seen youngsters climbing on the netting, said: “I’m really pleased the council have acted so quickly in putting up a warning sign and clearing away the broken netting on Thursday - but why couldn’t they have done this earlier?

“I hope they will now repair it properly.”

Coun Graham Cain, the council’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said: “We inspect the Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) on Fisher’s Field on a regular basis.

“The most recent inspection has revealed a number of problems which means that it will need to be closed with immediate effect for safety reasons due to vandalism of the safety fencing.

“This will allow us to carry out repairs and look at ways in which we can try to prevent the problems that are taking place. It’s very sad that we have had to take this step but in the interests of safety we have been left with little choice.

“It is incredibly frustrating for me, for our staff and, I’m sure, for the local community that a facility which has been provided in good faith is being damaged by people misusing it.

“During the period the MUGA is closed I would urge people to notify us or the police if they see anyone trying to break into the area to use it.”

 

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