Big Society cash means better playtime for kids

Playtime for youngsters in Fishbourne is set to get a whole lot better, thanks to funding for two new activity areas.

The children’s play area next to the Fishbourne Club in Blackboy Lane is unusable for many months of the year because it floods, which has sparked a raft of improvements.

Not only will there be a new all-weather surface, but it will be extended for toddlers, and have new equipment. While across the other side of the site a new activities area for teenagers will be built next to the multi-use games area.

Once completed the areas will be used as a learning site for community play volunteers (CPVs) who will, once trained, be able to coordinate organised play events at the club.

The plans have been given a timely boost thanks to £20,000 of funding from West Sussex County Council’s Big Society scheme. The money will be split between funding the development as well as the training of the CPVs.

A further £50,000 of funding has been applied for from various authorities, which it is hoped will be decided upon in the next month.

Chairman of Fishbourne Parish Council, Geoff Hand said the play site became unusable in the soggy winter months. “The problem is they could not use it,” he said.

“They wanted a proper all-weather surface, and then we thought if we are doing that we ought to look at some new equipment because some of the equipment was becoming obsolete, and I thought if we are going to do that we might as well do a proper job and extend it.

“We have got a lot of sporting provision on the playing field which is mainly for grown ups, but apart from that there is a gap.

“It started about six months ago.

“We have chosen our preferred bid after tender, and what we need now is to get some more funds in.

“The expensive bit is the all-weather area, the base, because if you have this grass stuff you still cannot use it, it’s low-lying and floods a lot.

“We are going to put down a surface made from old reclaimed tyres - something I’m told is quite successful in Disney World.”

They will now be applying for planning permission, and had originally hoped to have it ready for the village’s Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, but have put it on hold until the Olympics in the summer.

The Fishbourne project was one of a number to receive funding as part of the Big Society scheme which saw £151,250 handed out to ventures across the county.

They were approved by Michael Brown, cabinet member for finance and resources who said: “Each and every one of these diverse projects can have a lasting impact on their communities – and we hope this is just the start.”

- Details of how to apply for future funding can be found on the county council website at www.westsussex.gov.uk – type ‘Big Society fund’ into the search bar.