Testing out the new playground

from left, Clare Law, Better Start, Austin Law, two, Finlay Law, six and Annie Heslop, Park development officer at the George Bancroft Park fun day

from left, Clare Law, Better Start, Austin Law, two, Finlay Law, six and Annie Heslop, Park development officer at the George Bancroft Park fun day

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Families gathered at a Blackpool park to celebrate an £80,000 investment in new play facilities.

Children tested out the playground which has been built at George Bancroft Park in order to provide somewhere for younger infants to enjoy.

from left, Annie Heslop, Park development officer, Finlay Law, six, Austin Law, two and Clare Law, Better Start at the George Bancroft Park fun day

from left, Annie Heslop, Park development officer, Finlay Law, six, Austin Law, two and Clare Law, Better Start at the George Bancroft Park fun day

The work has been carried out by Blackpool Better Start, which is upgrading a number of playgrounds as part of an initiative to improve opportunities from birth for children born into the resort’s poorest neighbourhoods.

At George Bancroft Park, the early years play area has been moved from a site near the climbing towers to a new location closer to the Waterloo Road bridge.

There had been instances of vandalism, including damage to the rubber safety surface, at the original site which was more remote.

The launch of the new facilities was celebrated with a family fun day including a teddy bear’s picnic.

Janet Young and daughter Sapphire Young, four from Blackpool at the George Bancroft Park fun day

Janet Young and daughter Sapphire Young, four from Blackpool at the George Bancroft Park fun day

Mum Clare Jones, who attended the event with her two sons, said: “My children have been really excited about the developments in the early years play area at George Bancroft Park.

“They were so looking forward to the afternoon and it was even better than we expected.

“We spent a whole afternoon at the park, trying out all the new equipment and having a great time with other local families.

“My little ones are now busy checking out what is happening at Revoe.”

from left, Joshua Green, ten, Jacob Green, seven, Joseph Green, five and Megan Green, eight from Blackpool at the George Bancroft Park fun day

from left, Joshua Green, ten, Jacob Green, seven, Joseph Green, five and Megan Green, eight from Blackpool at the George Bancroft Park fun day

Sharon Mather, development manager at Better Start, said: “George Bancroft Park has fantastic facilities for older children, but when we consulted with local families, they identified a need for a safe and stimulating environment for families with young children to enjoy.

“It has been exciting to bring so many separate elements and ideas together to form a fantastic play space for local families here.”

Designed in consultation with families and the local parent’s advisory forum Community Voice, the project is already proving to be a big hit.

Steph Bradley, community voice chairman and parent, said: “The kids are really excited about the new play area.

Jack Dutton, three and Morgan Dodd, seven from Blackpool at the George Bancroft Park fun day

Jack Dutton, three and Morgan Dodd, seven from Blackpool at the George Bancroft Park fun day

”They love the play train, and parents like that they can let their children run about without worrying.”

In addition to the new development at George Bancroft Park, improvements are in the pipeline for Revoe Park, Claremont Park as well as Grange Park Children’s Centre facilities, and everyone is encouraged to have their say.

Ms Mather added: “We really want these parks and open spaces to reflect what families are telling us they need, so input from local families is incredibly important to us.”

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet secretary for Blackpool Council, said: “I’m delighted the work on a better George Bancroft park is now complete.

“This is a great example of how the Better Start money is being used to visibly improve young families’ lives by providing a better park for children to play on.

“A lot of early child development takes place through play with their families and other children, while it also keeps them active and healthy as they run around in the outdoors.

from left, Macey Hart, five, Finley Hart, eight and Ryan Hart, six from Blackpool with Annie Heslop, Park development officer at the George Bancroft Park fun day

from left, Macey Hart, five, Finley Hart, eight and Ryan Hart, six from Blackpool with Annie Heslop, Park development officer at the George Bancroft Park fun day

“The old location for the park had become vulnerable to anti-social behaviour but it has moved to a much safer position where it is brightly lit and overlooked at all times.

“The residents nearby can not only enjoy this new park but they can also look forward to renovations at Revoe Park being completed soon too, meaning two very much improved green spaces for young children right on their doorstep.”

Anyone wishing to take part in the upcoming consultation events can find out more by visiting Better Start’s website at www.blackpoolbetterstart.org.uk