Play parks across County Durham reopen as lockdown restrictions continue to ease

Play parks across County Durham have reopened as part of the nationwide easing of lockdown restrictions.

Durham County Council is undertaking individual risk assessments on all 175 of its children’s play parks and is working hard to reopen these valued facilities as soon as it is safe to do so.

As part of a phased reopening, playgrounds in the following eight parks reopened on Saturday, July 11, all following the completion of risk assessments:

  • Stanhope West End Playing Field
  • Sedgefield Hardwick Park
  • Wharton Park in Durham City
  • Langley Moor Holiday Park
  • Blackhall and Consett Park
  • Willington Town Centre Park
  • Bishop Auckland Jane Armstrong Park
  • Stanley Oakey Park

The council’s remaining play parks will open as soon as their assessments have been completed and necessary safety measures have been put in place. Some play parks in the county are owned and maintained by town and parish councils.

The parks included within the first phase were chosen as they are the most popular facilities and, as far as possible, are spread across the county. Some also have staff on site regularly, which will allow the council to monitor any social distancing and hygiene issues that arise and consider these when reopening other playgrounds. Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street has not been included in the first phase as work is being undertaken to repair the play surface, which has eroded.

At the sites set to reopen on Saturday, steps have been taken to assist with social distancing where necessary. These include the reduction, removal or repositioning of some play equipment and benches.

To ensure the first phase of reopening could begin at the weekend, temporary signs have also been put up to highlight key social distancing and hygiene guidance. These will be replaced with permanent signs and include the following messages:

  • Please do not attend if you or anyone in your household has coronavirus symptoms.
  • Please wash your hands before and after you visit the playgrounds.
  • Please observe the two-metre distancing guidance.
  • Please do not bring food, drink or your own cleaning products into the playgrounds.
  • Please avoid entering the park if it looks busy and come back at another time.
  • Please take your litter home.

The council is also asking residents to avoid the temptation of visiting play parks that remain closed, as the equipment will not have been used for some months and may not be safe.

Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “Our play parks provide a safe place for children to play, exercise and explore and we, like many families in the county, are keen for them to reopen as soon as possible.

“However, as the lockdown eases it is important we put the right measures in place to protect the public. In County Durham, the response to the Government guidance and restrictions put in place throughout the pandemic has been incredibly positive. I would like to thank residents for this response and for their continued patience while we carry out this important work at our parks.

“If you plan to visit one of the play parks due to reopen on Saturday, I hope you have a wonderful time but please remember to follow the guidance. It is vital we all play our part.”

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