9. Children and Parents

9.1 Consultation Results

There are many good services in the village for children and parents. The school, library, playgroup, mums and tots group, Field Day Committee events and Beavers, Cubs and Brownies were particularly appreciated. However more could be done.  Specific problems included: difficulties with inadequate pavements, meaning parents with small children or prams have to walk in the road; a lack of a nursery; and issues around dog fouling. People want to see new play and sports facilities; a school bus; a nursery; a holiday club and a mothers group.

Specific interviews around play provision were conducted with local parents. These showed that there is an urgent need for increased play provision in Silverdale for all ages, particularly toddlers and young children. Currently most parents travel some distances, sometimes as far as Morecambe, to use other play facilities. Only one parent said they used the Silverdale playground at all. Many others had never even been to it because of its unsavoury reputation, dog dirt, poor maintenance, concerns about safety and its outdated play equipment that does not cater for younger children.

Parents wanted a spacious area where their children could run around freely, one that was well fenced and gated with soft protective rubber landings underneath play equipment. Many parents expressed a desire for separate play spaces on the same site for younger and older children and also for more imaginative features for children to play ‘make-believe’. A significant minority wanted play provision to be environmentally friendly.

Parents also talked about possibilities for indoor play space and general difficulties around parenting in Silverdale. Various options were considered for locations for a new play space including the Institute field, the field by the school and the current playground. Although many parents felt that it was important for the playground to be central, others felt that people are happy to travel to get to a good playground.

All of the parents seemed pleased to have been consulted about the needs of children and parents and some expressed interest in helping bring the new facilities to fruition.

9.2 Action Group Report

After consideration of all the comments from the Parish Plan consultation process, it was obvious that there is a desperate need for better play facilities for children of all ages in Silverdale. The group considered the needs of children from toddler age to about 12. After discussion of the various sites suggested for an outdoor playground, it decided that it should concentrate efforts on improving the existing play facilities at the Cove Road playing field. While some things could be done to upgrade it, within the next 2 years a new playground should be provided on the site, involving a redesign with new and better equipment, more benches, etc.

In order to decide on what equipment is preferred, the group studied photographs of existing playgrounds in other nearby villages and established a photo gallery. A variety of play equipment catalogues was obtained and studied and quotations were received from five companies. Advice and information was received from a number of agencies including Lancaster City Council, the Charities Commission, the Children’s Play council and the National playing Fields Association.

In considering what might be provided, a list of desired equipment for toddlers, older children and imaginative/ adventurous play was produced, making use of existing equipment where possible. Rubber safety surfacing was preferred option despite its higher cost and timber was preferred to steel for the structures, despite its shorter lifespan, as it would be more in keeping with the AONB. Outline proposals were developed and displayed for comment at the village Field Day. The plan includes the following features:

2 main areas – one for toddlers (2-5), fenced from the rest of the site, and one for older children (6-12)
an area for adventure/ imaginative play
path for prams
benches, picnic tables, litter bins
continuous safety surface as needed
all safely gated from road to keep children in and dogs out.
more trees planted at top end for children to run around / under,
dog grids

The plan could be carried out in three stages.  Approximate costs are:

  • Phase 1:    £15- 20,000
  • Phase 2:    £17- 50,000
  • Phase 3:    £7- 12,000
  • Total       £39- 82,000

The group has now established a new charitable trust, ‘Action for Silverdale Children’ to work with the Parish Council. A fundraising account has been set up and several potential sources of funding have been identified,

9.3 Action

9.3.1 Short Term

Existing Playground

  1. Regardless of any other proposals there is an immediate need to tidy up and improve safety at the existing playground. This would include:
    • Clearing rough areas, litter etc.
    • Removing the old small climbing frames that are never used.
    • Repainting the  baby swings and tractor spring
    • Improving access to the adventure course, putting bark beneath and clearing  brambles etc. between it and the hedge
    • Improving entrance to the site to make it more welcoming, including a fence/gate and a path up to the play area for prams.
  2. If proposals for a new playground do not proceed in the near future, then the following action will also be needed:
    • Remove outdated slide and replace with a safer design, including safety matting beneath
    • Reinstall swings for older children and install a safety surface

New Playground

  1. Design and equipment – finalise and agree a design brief and specification for the new play area.
  2. Obtain Parish Council approval, planning permission and other necessary consents.
  3. Establish fundraising targets and strategy.

9.3.2 Medium Term

  1. Fund-raising. The following possible sources of grants etc. are to be followed up:
    • Lancaster City Council
    • National Lottery Fund
    • Carnforth Area Regeneration Partnership
    • Playgroup Association
    • Parish Council
    • Groundwork Living Spaces scheme
  2. Put into place arrangements for future management, maintenance and insurance.

9.3.3    Long Term

  1. The following ideas were put forward for consideration in the longer term:
    • Provision of toilets at the new playground.
    • Possible other playgrounds
    • Indoor play facilities
    • Cafe/meeting place
    • Nursery provision
    • Childcare provision