April 22, 2015 | Brenkley News
New facilities for older children at a popular play park in a north Newcastle village have had their official opening after a successful fundraising campaign by a local community group.
The Hazlerigg Action Group has been working towards raising the money needed to replace an existing, rundown play park with something more suitable for local children for more than seven years.
As part of the park’s development, local families visited a number of play areas in surrounding communities to help their children compile a wish list of equipment they hoped to eventually see in their village.
The first phase of the project was completed in 2013 with the opening of play facilities for younger children next to the village’s community centre and memorial hall, with most of the cost of this work being met through a £30,000 grant from The Banks Group, via the Community Fund linked to its nearby Brenkley Lane Surface Mine.
Late last year, Banks provided a further £7,250 from the same fund to help the Action Group add further equipment for older children to it, which include a new set of swings, a low ‘supernova’ roundabout and the safety matting on which they’ve now been installed.
The Action Group carried out extensive consultations with people living near the play park about the second phase of the project to ensure any concerns about the possibility of anti-social behaviour were properly addressed, even though no such issues had previously arisen in the area, and a direct contact number for local police has been provided to enable any such problems to be easily reported if they ever occur. Louise Fairley of the Hazlerigg Action Group says: “The local response to the first phase of the playpark was absolutely brilliant – we had no problems and nothing but praise for what it’s done for the community, and we expect the second phase to be just as enthusiastically received.
“All the way through this project, we’ve worked hard to involve as many members of the community as possible, most especially those who live near the playpark, so we could address any questions or concerns they might have about what we were planning. The overall response has been fantastic and everyone has bought into what we’re looking to achieve.
“The Banks Group’s generous support has made such a big difference to the area, and the second grant we’ve received from them means even more of our young people now have access to much-needed local play facilities.”
Banks Mining currently employs over 200 people across the Brenkley Lane and nearby Shotton surface mine sites, which jointly contribute around £35m to the regional economy every year through wages, investments and the local supply chain, as well as more than £400,000 in annual business rates to Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council.
The Banks Group’s local operations have also enabled them to donate around £800,000 to local groups and good causes in Northumberland over the last decade alone through the Banks Community Fund.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group, says: “The new Hazlerigg play park quickly became a very well used asset by families across the community, and extending what’s available to a wider range of local young people can only make it even more popular.
“The members of the Hazlerigg Action Group have shown just how much a community can achieve by setting a clear target and working relentlessly towards it, and we’re very happy to have been part of helping them realise their goals.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects, with funding decisions made independently of the planning and project development process. Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.