Mum backs down in fight over play equipment after legal threatBy Becky Barnes
September 03, 2012
The threat of a huge legal bill has forced a mum to remove equipment for which she paid more than £700 from a communal garden.
Coleen King, 24, of Moor Close, Owlsmoor, felt she could not afford to enter a legal battle after she received letters from Bracknell Forest Homes threatening up to £2,500 legal costs if she did not take action by August 22.
The mum-of-three said: “It is very disappointing and I think it is really unfair, but I could not keep fighting it and end up getting fined.
“I had to take it all down in the end or they were going to take me to court.”
Miss King paid for swings and a trampoline to go in the fenced off area three years ago, but earlier this month Bracknell Forest Homes (BFH), which manages the area, said play equipment could not be left out permanently.
She received a letter saying the trampoline must be ‘moved immediately’ as the area was to be ‘a quiet area’ for residents to sit in.
BFH had originally told Miss King the equipment needed to be removed due to health and safety issues, but has now clarified it is down to a public liability insurance issue after the Health and Safety Executive reassured people there were no ‘elf and safety’ rules governing children’s play areas.
Miss King ‘fought a battle’ with Bracknell Forest Homes via email but eventually received the letter with a date by which she had to remove the play equipment. She said: “I said they [BFH] would have to take it down themselves and on Monday [August 20] they came and moved it into my garage.
“The kids thought it was horrible when they came and took it away – none of them have got anything to do and are asking where it has gone.”
Miss King said she had ‘lots of support’ from the community and has gained more than 50 signatures on a petition to keep the play equipment in the area.
She said: “The trampoline will stay in the garage but I hope to take the swings in every day and put them away, but they are heavy.
“I will contact them [BFH] by email to ask but it’s all pathetic really. I will keep trying and everyone is supporting me.”
Linda Wells, BFH’s housing and community services director, said: “We are pleased to say that this matter is resolved and we have worked with the resident to take down the equipment.
“The land is owned by Bracknell Forest Homes and as such we have responsibility for its use and risks to public safety.
“We have the safety and enjoyment of residents and visitors at heart.
“We do appreciate that it is sometimes a challenge to keep children occupied during the school holidays and we try to help by providing a range of children’s activities such as sports and fun camps through our community investment programme, including the community games on August 28 at Jealott’s Hill Community Landshare.
“Owlsmoor and Sandhurst do have some very nice recreation areas for families to enjoy in safety, including playgrounds off Rookwood Avenue and Sandhurst Memorial Park, and we would encourage residents to use these areas.”