Extra on bill to save play pod?

PUBLISHED: 14:00 26 December 2010

Archant

PEOPLE living in Banwell could be charged an extra £5 through their council tax bill to help save a ‘popular’ play scheme in the village.

The parish council is considering stepping in to save a series of children’s activities held on the community’s recreational ground.

The sessions, run by the North Somerset play rangers, are under threat because of a cut in lottery funding in March.

In a report to Banwell Parish Council, members were told the activities had proved a hit in the village and had been linked to a drop in antisocial behaviour.

But without a £6,000 annual grant from the council, it was likely the service would be withdrawn and a play pod containing children’s equipment would be removed.

The report said: “The number of children and young people in the park regularly using the service is consistent and high.

“Another indication of the success of the project in Banwell is the statistics of crime and incidents. The rate has been steadily decreasing since the service arrival in the parks.

“If investment can continue to be supplied to the community the impact on Banwell should continue to be successful.”

The £6,000 asked for from the parish council would keep the service going while other sources of funding are sought. The cash would, however, raise the parish precept by at least eight per cent, about £5 per parishioner.

As well as in Banwell, the play scheme also operates in Worle and Yatton. It began following an award of a £352,000 Big Lottery Fund grant in 2008.

Six play rangers and one play development worker are employed under the scheme, which is aimed at 10-14 year olds. Using play pods kitted with den building materials, circus skills kits and sports equipment, the team initiates activities for the youngsters.

In the hope of keeping hold of the play pods and play rangers, individual town and parish councils are being asked if they will take on the funding of the scheme.

A debate on the issue is set to be held at Banwell Parish Council’s next meeting at 7.30pm on January 3 at the village hall in Westfield Road.

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