Stevenage's play areas set to reopen for first time in months

This Stevenage play area in Bray Drive has been padlocked for more than a decade.

All 56 play areas are expected to reopen in Stevenage by the end of this week - Credit: Archant

All 56 play areas across Stevenage are set to officially reopen this week for the first time since the start of this year.

Stevenage Borough Council says it is now in a position to reopen play parks across the town - thanks to the dip in coronavirus cases, hospitalisations and increased vaccination take up.

The reopening period will be phased, with Fairlands Valley Park, Town Centre Gardens, Hampson Park and Shephalbury Park the first to be reopened today.

Larger play areas will follow these initial four, followed by smaller sites ward by ward. All play areas are expected to reopen by Friday, April 16.

SBC are urging different households to keep their distance while enjoying the parks, and encouraging regular use of hand sanitiser after using the equipment.

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A statement on Facebook read: "If you visit a play area and find it's too busy for you to safely keep your distance from others, please come back at a quieter time.

"Thank you for your patience while the play areas have been closed."

Initially, play areas were closed for four weeks on Monday, January 11 and some residents had hit out at the move to close parks for more than three months.

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Mum Wendy Walton told the Comet: "Children in the town are suffering for this, and it’s looking likely that adults will be able to access indoor gyms before children can access outdoor play areas."

But others defended the decision, including our senior reporter Louise McEvoy, who penned a powerful opinion piece on the closure.

Richard Protheroe, strategic director at SBC, said: "Thank you to all of our residents for your patience regarding the closure of 56 outdoor play areas across the town.

"They were closed in January as part of our work to protect the public from a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in Stevenage, in particular those aged 0-11 and 20-39 years old.

"The council's COVID team has worked hard with support from other agencies, including the police, to encourage residents to follow the guidelines in order to lower the number of cases in Stevenage.

"As we move towards the next stage of the [reopening] roadmap, and the relaxation of other restrictions, we are adopting a staggered approach to reopen our play areas."

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