Neighbours' court bid to shut noisy playgroundBy Hugh Fort
May 10, 2012
Villagers have launched a court battle to stop the “nuisance” sound of children by closing a £150,000 playground.
The group of neighbours living close to Locks Ride Recreation Group in Ascot filed a criminal prosecution for nuisance noise against Winkfield Parish Council, which runs the playground.
The case was heard on Tuesday and yesterday at Reading Magistrates’ Court.
Yesterday, the court heard from Andrew Hawes, an expert from Sanctum Environmental Health Consultants, who carried out numerous tests on noise levels from the playground, which opened last May.
Last summer he recorded a level of 55 decibels and in his opinion this is high enough to be deemed “a nuisance”.
He told the court he was “surprised” at the noise of children shouting while playing.
Katie Helmore, defending, told District Judge Andrew Vickers it was possible people living nearby could suffer from “sensitisation”, where people are more sensitive to noise.
Later in the trial, the parish council’s defence brought in a number of witnesses who spoke in support of the playground.
Mum Lauren Dorman, who lives nearby with her husband and four-year-old son, said: “I see the playground as a huge benefit to the area.
“I can’t comment on problems before September 2011 because we didn’t live here, but it was a real attraction when we moved here.
“My son is an only child and it’s great for him to interact with other children.
“I’ve had no problem with noise coming from it, I hear the sound of children having fun.
“I’d really hate to lose it and I hope a compromise can be found.”
Dad Alan Weyman, from Locks Ride, also spoke in defence of the playground.
He has two children aged four and nine, who he said “loved” the playground.
He said: “We’ve had no problems at all.
“The only thing I’ve seen is a group of teenagers on the zip wire when I left for work early one morning.
“The noise isn’t a problem.”
Prosecution solicitor Alan Steynor asked if he agreed the noise was “screeching and screaming”, but Mr Weyman said: “It’s the sound of children having fun, I’ve got no problem with it.”
Marcia Milsom, deputy clerk for Winkfield Parish Council was also called as witness.
Mrs Milsom said the parish council had received a number of complaints about noise, traffic and litter since the playground opened, but added there had also been some very positive feedback.
Mr Steynor asked if plans were in place to expand the playground by adding better toilets and a cafe, but Mrs Milsom said while the parish council has discussed various plans for the site, nothing had been decided.
The hearing is due to continue later this month.