Campaign leads to reopening of Lewisham playgrounds

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Playgrounds in Lewisham closed since lockdown began were set to reopen yesterday after a local campaign.

Although many playgrounds reopened as lockdown eased, some Lewisham Homes’ play spaces have remained locked.

But after a newly-formed campaign group from Evelyn ward pushed for their reopening, Lewisham Homes said children would have access from yesterday.

The call was part of a new campaign Play Evelyn, led by six women, including a Lewisham mayoress and the chairwoman of Deptford Folk, to improve play facilities for children across the ward.

In a letter to the mayor of Lewisham and the chief executive of Lewisham Homes, the group said residents were told to “have patience”.

But, they wrote: “And, yet, we have already waited for years.

“While we believe opportunities to play, stay healthy and improve physical fitness are applicable to all members of the community, our focus will be on improving existing provision for children.

“Children in the Evelyn ward have long experienced poor access to quality play opportunities in their local area.

“This has had an impact on their physical and mental well-being and continues to do so.

“Children have grown up with inadequate investment in playgrounds.

“Evelyn ward has the highest deprivation rates in the borough and a considerable amount of funding from developers remains unspent. This is unexplainable.”

A spokesman for Lewisham Homes confirmed the reopening and said the fencing company it uses had faced staffing and storage problems and “let us down”.

He said: “As restrictions eased we gradually reopened the facilities, with lockable play areas all reopened before the August bank holiday.

“Where temporary fencing was installed, it has taken longer that we had programmed to collect it.

“Our fencing contractor has been facing staffing and storage problems and let us down on this occasion.

“We therefore allocated the task to our own workforce and expect the remaining closed play areas to be open by September 30.”

A spokeswoman for the campaign group said it was “thankful to Lewisham Homes chief executive Margaret Dodwell for “listening and taking action”.

She said: “The Play Evelyn group’s next step is to build on the successful outcome of this initial campaign to secure urgent investment in all play spaces across the Evelyn ward.”

Pictured top: Some children living in Evelyn ward have been left without a playground during lockdown


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