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Black Friday for Wellington kids

Let Us Play
A campaign to save Wellington’s playgrounds

News Release
For immediate release

Thursday, 12 December 2002

Black Friday for Wellington kids

The Wellington City Council is rushing through a decision to close up to 26 city playgrounds.

The Community, Health and Recreation Committee has suddenly brought forward its decision on a draft playgrounds policy by three months.

The committee meets tomorrow [Friday] to decide whether to adopt the policy, despite having adopted an "action plan" in September that said the decision would be made in March 2003.

"The committee seems to be trying to slip this decision through in the Christmas rush, without any good reason," say Graeme Speden and Josie Harbutt, who are planning a public awareness campaign on the issue.

"We have just begun to alert Wellington people to the council's plans to close playgrounds and it seems the council is spooked at the prospect of people organising and making their opposition known."

The Let Us Play campaign began with a substantial submission on the council's draft playgrounds policy. It was circulated by email for just two days before submissions closed and in that time attracted the support of 70 Wellington residents. Expressions of support received after the council's deadline have lifted the total to about 100.

"Wellington people don't want playgrounds closed when so little money is needed to keep and upgrade them," said Graeme Speden and Josie Harbutt. "Keeping all the city's existing playgrounds and upgrading them for safety and quality would cost only $530,000, or 0.8 percent of the council's capital budget.

"It is tragic that the council can find millions of dollars for high-profile recreation projects like re-sanding Freyberg Beach, but it cannot bring itself to spend half a million dollars a year to keep all the city's local playgrounds. If the council wants to save money, why should the kids pay first?"
The Community, Health and Recreation Committee meets Friday from 9.15am in Committee Room 1 of the Council buildings. The Let Us Play campaign will be making a verbal submission urging the committee to stick to its published timetable for a decision so the people of Wellington get a chance to let councillors know what they think.

Copies of the Let Us Play submission are available by email and fax.

For media enquiries:
Josie Harbutt: 021 588860
Graeme Speden 021 270 9055

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