East Devon skate parks and games areas to reopen within days, council announces

Public skate parks and games areas across East Devon will reopen next week and children’s play zones are expected to follow this month.

Skate parks in Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Honiton and Seaton can be used from Monday, July 6, after they were closed at the end of March because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Some 12 games areas across Exmouth, Axminster, Honiton, Ottery St Mary and Budleigh Salterton will also welcome back the public from July 6.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) announced the move today (Friday, July 3) adding it ‘anticipated’ reopening play parks on Monday, July 13, in Exmouth, Honiton, Axminster, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Beer and Ottery St Mary.

It said new signs will remind the public to take along sanitiser, wash their hands thoroughly before and after visits and warn them not to eat and drink while on the play equipment.

They will also be told to take litter home, be considerate of other park users and be prepared to come back another time if the area is busy.

The council warned it could not guarantee the public areas would be free from the virus, and urged parents to supervise their children and take ‘all reasonable precautions’.

Skate parks reopening on Monday, July 6, are:

  • Budleigh Salterton (Lime Kiln);
  • Exmouth (Phear Park);
  • Honiton (Allhallows);
  • Seaton (Underfleet).

Multi-use games areas open to the public from July 6 are:

  • Exmouth: Phear Park (x2), Liverton Copse, Cumberland Close, King George’s Field, Carter Avenue, The Crescent;
  • Axminster: Foxhill;
  • Honiton: St Mark’s, Davey Playing Field, All Hallows;
  • Ottery St Mary: Thorne Farm Way, Winter’s Lane;
  • Budleigh Salterton: Greenway Lane.

The district council anticipates the following play area sites will re-open on Monday, July 13.

  • Queen’s Drive play area, Exmouth;
  • Phear Park, Exmouth;
  • Redgates, Exmouth;
  • Allhallows, Honiton;
  • St Mark’s Road, Honiton;
  • North Street, Axminster;
  • Foxhill, Axminster;
  • Lime Kiln, Budleigh Salterton;
  • Stowford Rise, Sidmouth;
  • Manstone Recreation Ground, Sidmouth;
  • Jubilee, Beer;
  • Land of Canaan, Ottery St Mary.
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Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC portfolio holder for coast, countryside and environment, said: “I am really pleased that following the Government’s decision to reduce COVID-19 Emergency measures we are able to reopen many of our play areas.

“We are only able to do this following a thorough review and risk assessment of all our sites, and providing extra cleaning, materials and signage to protect the health and wellbeing for all the users.

“There are other play parks and facilities throughout the district run by a community, group, or parish council who are also considering opening their facilities and therefore residents need to check locally when their play park is open.”

Re-opening of play sites is a ‘more complex issue’ because of detailed guidance set out by the Government on increased cleaning, due to the risk of spreading the virus from where people’s hands meet the equipment, the council said.

Government guidance says parents, guardians and carers should sanitise children’s hands before and after using the play equipment, said EDDC.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “There are clearly many of these touch points where children play and, whereas before these touch points were not cleaned, the council is carrying out further risk assessments to determine the levels of cleaning now required in light of COVID-19.

“These assessments are required for each of the seventy-one play area sites. With the current resources the council has, it is focussing on how it can safely re-open twelve play parks and will review the re-opening of all the other sites shortly.”

She added: “As with all outdoor equipment that can be accessed by multiple people, play areas cannot be guaranteed to be free of COVID-19.

“Parents should supervise their children at all times and should take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of themselves and their children while using the equipment.”

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