Disabled children left without playground after vandals' wrecking spree
Furious families and carers have slammed the ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude of Wolverhampton Council over the closure of an adventure playground for those with severe disabilities.
They say if the local authority had spent money on security following a vandal attack around two years ago it would have prevented the wrecking spree that sparked the sudden shut down of the facility in Old Fallings Crescent, Low Hill.
Give Us A Break, a charity group involving around 100 Wolverhampton families with seriously disabled children, has regularly hired the playground for almost two years but was ordered to return the keys last month and told all future bookings were cancelled after hooligans trashed the building. It claimed the only security was an alarm that was not linked to anybody.
The charity’s treasurer Claire Dainty, from Bilston, whose 10-year-old son Samuel suffers from severe autism, said: “We are very angry that the Council did not make it secure following the previous vandal attack.
“They just boarded up the building that was damaged on that occasion and did nothing to protect the other one which was wrecked last month.
“Roller shutters would have stopped people getting in but the only security was an alarm not linked to anybody
“Wolverhampton Council has no other facility like it and we will have to travel as far afield as Cannock to find another one which is not easy when you have wheelchairs to lug around.
“We cover the booking fee from donations given by Wolverhampton people and want that money to stay in the city, not paid to other authorities.”
Eleanor Biggs, a 25-year-old carer from Dunstall who looks after five significantly disabled children and young adults, added: “The couldn’t care less approach of the council has let the children and their families down.”
Hannah Boast, 28 and a carer from Ashmore Park, declared: “I remember when the playground was beautiful and am furious that more was not done to protect this unique asset for the city.”
Donna Stevens from Claygate whose eight year old son Freddie has autism added: “It was a marvellous facility where the children were allowed to have a childhood like mainstream children. They have no sense of danger and so you cannot let them loose in a general park but it was safe for them to roam here.”
The site had a variety of facilities including sensory room, soft flooring, a big fenced off play area and bed changing facilities with a hoist for the bigger children.
Councillor Val Gibson, cabinet member for children and young people at City of Wolverhampton Council said: “I am absolutely disgusted by this mindless and selfish act of vandalism. To target a children’s playground is an absolute disgrace, depriving children and young people, including those with a disability, use of a much-loved facility.
“Old Fallings Adventure Playground is a fantastic centre and for people to treat it this way is truly heart breaking.
“Despite our efforts, there seems to be group of individuals who want to sabotage this beloved facility and destroy a place that is meant to be a safe environment for children to enjoy.
“We are currently reviewing the extent of the damage and cost of repairs and have security measures in place to prevent any further incidents. In the meantime, we will work with groups who use the facility to explore alternative venues to meet the needs of children and their families.
“Following issues with vandalism in the past, the council have provided additional security patrols and worked closely with the local police to provide additional patrols in the area.
“I encourage anyone who has any information about this selfish act to call the police on 101 as soon as possible.“I encourage anyone who has any information about this selfish act to call the police on 101 as soon as possible.””