Play area could be sold to plug council's deficit
PUBLISHED: 14:10 24 August 2016
The proposals have been branded 'short-sighted' by a Labour councillor
A children’s play area in Crayford is among six open spaces that could be sold off by Bexley Council amid ongoing efforts to plug its financial deficit.
Millfield Open Space on Iron Mill Lane, a recreation area that includes play facilities for youngsters, has been earmarked for disposal, along with five other spaces in Erith, Crayford and Belvedere.
The council cited ‘unprecedented financial pressures’ as the reason for the decision, with the need to make savings of £56 million by 2019/20.
It estimates that the sale of the six sites will raise £0.07 million, which, when added to the revenue raised from the first four sites in the disposal programme, results in a figure of £0.8 million.
Councillor Peter Craske, cabinet member for community safety, environment and leisure, said: “The money from those disposals would be used to prevent further cuts to the grant maintenance budget.
“If we had to make further cuts, we would have to remove playgrounds across the borough and stop cutting grass.”
But Belvedere Labour councillor Sean Newman branded the proposals ‘short-sighted’.
“Once they are gone, they are gone,” he said. “You cannot keep on selling as there are only a finite number of spaces.
“In my ward there is a disposal planned, and last night I met with about 50 residents, all of whom were objecting.
“They say the land is worth more to them and the community, and you can’t put a value on it. It is where their children play.”
The council is due to make a final decision on the matter in October.