Phased reopening of County Durham play parks continues
Dozens more play parks, skate parks and multi-use-games areas (MUGA) across County Durham are due to reopen within the next fortnight with new measures in place to promote social distancing.
And today we have announced the vast remainder of the play parks and outdoor recreational facilities under its care will reopen by the end of the month in line with the easing of lockdown restrictions across the country.
Prior to reopening its playgrounds, we are required to undertake individual risk assessments at each site. A phased approach has been adopted to enable these assessments to be completed and any necessary safety measures put in place. It does not include parks owned and maintained by town and parish councils.
The first phase saw some of the county's biggest and most popular playgrounds reopen at Stanhope West End Playing Field, Sedgefield Hardwick Park, Wharton Park in Durham City, Langley Moor Holiday Park, Blackhall and Consett Park, Willington Town Centre Park, Bishop Auckland Jane Armstrong Park and Stanley Oakley Park.
For more information about the reopening of the council's play parks visit the Park play areas re-opening information page.
These sites were selected for the first phase due to their popularity and the fact some have staff on site regularly, which is allowing the council to monitor any social distancing and hygiene issues that arise.
The next phase will begin on or before Friday 17 July, with local parks situated in and around housing estates across the county and recreation grounds providing sports facilities, such as skate parks.
This will be followed by large recreation areas with fixed play equipment on or before Saturday 25 July. Play spaces known as residential doorstep parks, which feature some play equipment for young children, will open on or before Wednesday 29 July.
A three-phase reopening of MUGAs is also underway, with sites across the county opening on or before Friday 17 July, Wednesday 22 July and Saturday 25 July.
A full list of playparks, MUGAs and their reopening dates can be found on the Park play areas re-opening information page.
Visitors to these parks may notice some changes when they reopen, as to assist with social distancing, we are reducing, removing and repositioning some play equipment and benches where necessary. Signs are also being put up to highlight key social distancing and hygiene guidance, including staying two metres apart and bringing hand sanitiser to use before and after visiting. People are asked not to bring food, drink or their own cleaning products on site, and should not attend if they or anyone in their household has coronavirus symptoms.
We also need to carry out unrelated maintenance work at six of its play parks and these will remain closed until repairs are completed. This includes the playgrounds at Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street, Allensford Park in Consett, Gray Lane Demenes Park in Barnard Castle, Pity Me The Avenues Park in Durham City and Wharton Street Park in Coundon.
Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council's Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: "Our staff have been working extremely hard to ensure our play parks are safe to reopen. Last weekend, we reopened eight of our most popular parks and it has been wonderful to see families enjoying the facilities again, while following the social distancing guidance. We are now moving onto the second phase - reopening local play parks at the heart of the communities they serve.
"By taking a phased approach, we can ensure each site has the measures in place it needs to allow youngsters and their families to enjoy the facilities safely. It also provides an opportunity for us to identify what is working well and to apply any lessons we learn to the reopening of other sites. I would like to thank residents for their patience while we carry out this important task and urge those visiting the parks to follow the guidance to help keep themselves and others safe."