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Confusion over cash for new play equipment at Ball Haye Recreational Grounds in Leek

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: July 24, 2014

By Belinda Hargreaves

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A town council has asked for a full report into a "sudden" proposal for a housing partnership to change a financial agreement relating to play equipment.

Leek Town Council agreed earlier this year to allow contractors working for Ascent, a partnership between Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Your Moorlands, part of Your Housing Group, to use part of the Ball Haye Green Recreational Grounds as contractor access during current building works for a new 35 home development at Horse Croft Farm.

This was in return for a total of £40,000 from Ascent – £15,000 for the town council to spend on landscaping the site, and £25,000 for new play equipment.

However, Amin Hashdi, of Your Housing Group asked members of Leek Town Council for feedback on a proposal to not give £15,000 towards landscaping, but instead use that £15,000 towards play equipment on the site, along with £29,000 – not £25,000 as agreed before – creating a total of £44,000 for equipment.

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He explained that a further £44,000 is also set to be spent by Ascent on play equipment at the Haregate Hall Play Area, off Haregate Road, also in the Haregate estate.

Mr Hashdi added that a proposal for the lion's share of a £100,000 budget to be spent on 'play space' improvements in the area by Ascent had been put forward by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) after six months of going "back and forth". He confirmed the district authority would tender for the new play equipment on both sites, and also carry out public consultations.

Mr Hashdi also said there is a proposal to have play equipment for older children on one of the sites, and for younger children on the other.

Mr Hashdi said: "I have agreed to feed back what you think to SMDC.

"There also needs to be a clarification of the long-term maintenance of the Ball Haye site."

Councillor Brian Johnson said: "Has SMDC got the rights to determine what goes on in our recreational grounds?

"Ball Haye Green Recreational Grounds has nothing whatsoever to do with SMDC. It is owned by Leek Town Council. I don't have any problem with getting more money for the play equipment. I presume you are trying to get better value for money, but again there most be some legalities to this. I don't see how SMDC can put this to the town council."

Councillor Charlotte Atkins said: "If SMDC wants to maintain this area then, yes, they can have a say.

"But we have already had issues with the landscaping around the new Haregate Community Centre so I would be very loath to let them say what happens in the Ball Haye Green recreational area."

Councillor Ben Emery said he wanted to see all the £88,000 budget for new play equipment being concentrated on the Ball Haye Recreational Grounds.

Councillor Pam Wood added: "There is £15,000 and £25,000 which has been promised to the town council. Why has SMDC not consulted with us directly? Can we chose what we want to go ahead with?

"We just want to be in charge of what money the town council gets and at least to be consulted."

Councillor Neal Podmore said: "I am not sure where we are going with this. We can't just make a decision tonight.

"We need a report on this and need to have a proper debate about it."

It was agreed that Mr Hashdi produce a report around the proposals and that the town council would hold a special meeting to debate it further.

Representatives of SMDC will also be invited to this meeting.

Town Mayor Keith Harrison added: "We need representation from SMDC anyway to ask why they have decided to take it over in the first place."

At the time of going print, no-one from SMDC was available to comment.

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