Angry mums slam new play area as their children left out


Disabled youngsters have criticised a North Staffordshire play area for not being ‘inclusive’.

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council unveiled its new-look Brough Park play area in Leek following an extensive three-month revamp.

But some mums have been left unhappy as their children struggle to use the equipment because of their disabilities.

They have now started a campaign to get the district council to consider disabled children during any refurbishment works.

It comes as 11-year-old Adam Shepherd wrote to the council saying his disabilities meant he felt ‘left out’ watching his friends play.




Adam, of Leek, wrote: “I am asking if it would be possible to make all recreation grounds in Leek inclusive and accessible.

“Playtime is one of the greatest joys of childhood and I feel that I and other children are missing out.

“Watching friends have fun on play equipment that is inaccessible, is so disheartening and makes me feel very sad and ‘left out’.”

Adam wants the council to install a sunken trampoline and a slide with a ramp.

Adam’s mum Annmarie Shepherd, aged 35, is now backing her son after she started a Facebook group for parents to share issues with inaccessible parks.

She said: “I think parks need to be more inclusive and all children have different levels of ability and that depends on what equipment they can use.

“We’ve started a group of 45 parents called Adam’s Kids Heroes for parents and there’s people saying the new park isn’t 100 per cent safe.

“Adam tried to use the new swings and he said he didn’t feel safe. It’s not the council’s fault, it’s down to their suppliers.

“When we went, there’s hard flooring and soft flooring, but the soft is raised, Adam tripped about three times. And he did a bum shuffle to get up the slide.”

Fellow parent Emma Lawley says her four-year-old daughter Alice also struggles to use the park as the swings don’t have straps on.

Emma, of Bagnall, said: “It’s great if you’re a typical child but my daughter is four and can’t walk, talk, or feed herself. All she can do is rollover.

“The only thing she can go on is the swing, but it doesn’t have straps, so we’ve had to bring our own seat that she uses to sit on the dining room chairs.

“The roundabout isn’t secure either, we’ve been told it is meant to be inclusive but it’s not.

“We don’t expect everything to be accessible but Alice is only four and we’ve had to fight for everything. Just because kids are disabled doesn’t mean they should miss out.”

The district council says the new park is accessible for disabled youngsters.

A spokesman said: “The Council has included a fully inclusive roundabout, a new basket swing to replace the old one and an inclusive style swing, which allows children to lie back and be supported by the seat, in the new play area.

“There is also a parent and toddler swing enabling children to swing whilst facing the adults with them and the large climbing unit has a double-width slide and hand holds on the steps and sides to assist those who are less mobile.

“Many of the new pieces include tactile features and much of the equipment is classed as accessible by Kompan, the playground specialist company we appointed to design and install the new area. The play area is open to all and we would hope that both juniors and toddlers are able to enjoy different parts.

“We had purposely specified equipment classed as accessible was included in the design to ensure the new play area would be as inclusive as possible, however, we do recognise that children may have differing requirements and needs and whilst some of these new items might be suitable for some children, they might not be for others.”



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