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All I want for Xmas is my playground

Let Us Play
A campaign to save Wellington’s playgrounds

News Release
For immediate release

13 December 2002.

All I want for Xmas is my playground

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast seems determined to give the city's kids a Chirstmas present they don't want: a policy that will close almost a quarter of the city's playgrounds.

The Council’s Community, Health and Recreation committee today rushed through a decision to adopt a policy that would close almost a quarter of Wellington's 110 playgrounds.

The full council will meet next Wednesday where it is likely to rubber-stamp today's decision unless Wellington people make their opposition felt.

A group of concerned Wellington parents has set up a campaign called Let us PLay to oppose the council's plans.

"We were told in September that the Council would not make a decision until March 2003," said Let Us Play campaign coordinators Josie Harbutt and Graeme Speden.

“Now they've panicked at the prospect of a grassroots campaign and rushed the decision through today.

"The Mayor is obviously hoping that Welilngton parents won't notice with Christmas looming."

“The council has severely under-funded playgrounds for years and now it is catch-up time. Wellington's playgrounds, in the council's own words, are ‘dated and worn out’.

"The council is proposing to spend about $400,000 a year on playgrounds and only needs to increase that by about $100,000 to keep them all and make them safe. That would total just 0.8 percent of the council's annual budget. We say that is not too much to ask for a basic service that means so much to the children, parents and grandparents of the city.

"The council says its policy will result in some bigger, better playgrounds in some parts of the city. That would be great, but not at the expense of smaller local playgrounds that people can walk to from home.

"We're sure the Mayor and councillors will be happy to open any new, upgraded playgrounds. We hope they'll have the decency to attend closing ceremonies for the playgrounds they plan to get rid of."

The Let us Play campaign will be contacting Wellington parents to organise a Day of Play in a Wellington
playground to let the Council know that Wellington parents don't want their playgrounds closed.

The Let Us Play campaign will be complaining to the Ombudsman about the committee's decision to renege on its notified timetable for a decision.


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