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New Diss play area vandalised then dubbed as non-inclusive

A new £110,000 play area has come under fire from a Roydon mother, who claims the equipment discriminates against children with mobility issues or disabilities.

The criticism of the play area in Diss Park, which was opened in December, comes after the area was vandalised in what has been described as “mindless damage”.

Council workers discovered burn marks, broken fence panels and smashed glass strewn across the area on December 20 – prompting Diss Town Council to warn users that any future damage could result in the site being temporarily closed.

Diss play area after a £110,000 revamp. Picture by Mark Bullimore.
Diss play area after a £110,000 revamp. Picture by Mark Bullimore.

A disgruntled parent, meanwhile, has complained that the new equipment is not inclusive enough, is not toddler-friendly and poses potential health and safety risks.

Nikki McCall, who regularly used the old play area with her daughter, said: “I contacted the council when the plans were first released to inquire as to whether the equipment was going to be accessible, so they had time to take this into consideration way before any work commenced.

“But now there is nothing that a child with additional needs can use independently or with the help of a carer. It’s an absolute waste of money.”

The play area includes a climbing frame, a three metre high slide and a zip wire, with the project setting out to replace some equipment that was more than nine years old.

But Mrs McCall believes the council has missed a trick. “It’s not okay, it’s a joke,” she said.

“My daughter is finding the new equipment really difficult to use. She was comfortable and happy on the old one, but she can’t use any of it now.

“It’s frustrating for parents. My daughter is upset that something she could use, she no longer can.”

During the planning stage, two layouts were considered and put to a public vote, with people encouraged to have their say through the council’s Facebook page and by visiting the offices on Market Hill.

The project was made possible through developer funds from the Longmeadow estate, under the condition that the cash had to be spent on the “improvement of physical recreational facilities or equipment for older children within the parishes of Roydon and Diss”.

Diss Town Council was approached for a comment regarding the concerns raised by parents – but only issued a statement in connection with the vandalism, which occurred within two weeks of the six-figure project being completed.

A council spokesman said: “This is a plea to the Diss community to please look out for any suspicious anti-social behaviour in this area and report it to the police. The town council is investigating measures it can take to help discourage this type of behaviour.

“It’s mindless damage to new equipment that has been installed for the benefit of the young people in our community. It will be a real shame if the park has to be closed off again to prevent further damage.”

Police are currently investigating the incident and CCTV footage is being examined to see if any perpetrators can be identified.

The incident took place on December 18 between 3.45pm and 6.45pm.

Contractors have been unable to complete work to the replacement roundabout and trampoline but will be returning shortly.

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