A new multi-use play area on Ashington’s Peoples Park was officially opened today (7 June) by Mr Ian Lavery MP.

Following the demolition of the former Ashington Leisure Centre and further to the granting of planning permission for new housing on the site, Ashington Town Council accepted an invitation from Northumberland County Council to be the lead organisation in the development of a major new replacement play facility on an identified site within Peoples Park.

The Town Council has now developed an inclusive children’s play facility that includes a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) and outside gym.

The Town Council has committed funds to the £210,000 project as well as securing significant external financial support from the Ashington Leisure Partnership, Ashington Town Team, Northumberland County Council’s Housing Developer Fund, Scottish Power’s Windfarm Development Fund and Gleeson Homes Ltd.  Ashington’s County Council members have also contributed to the project through their Local Members Improvement Scheme funds.

In developing the plans the Town Council asked local schoolchildren, from the nearby Bothal Primary School, what they would like to see in the park as well as consulting with a Parent & Toddler Group and young people from YMCA Northumberland. The ideas and views from this work were incorporated into the final plans for the project.

The play area includes swings, roundabouts, see-saws, climbing frames and slides. The design features ‘zoned areas’, based on age groups, with equipment that will develop and challenge the young people both physically and mentally.

The Town Council appointed Kompan Ltd to develop the project. Kompan have a track record of developing quality, robust play areas and have a Play Institute comprising of an international network of play and child specialists who research and monitor the latest societal trends in children’s play.  

At the opening County and Town Councillor for the Bothal Ward, Councillor Lynne Grimshaw, said ‘I’m sure the new play facility will be greatly welcomed, well-used, appreciated and respected by the local community. The Town Council were delighted to be given the opportunity by Northumberland County Council to deliver this project and our thanks go to our partner organisations and funders - Ashington Leisure Partnership, Gleeson Homes Ltd, Ashington Town Team, Scottish Power and Northumberland County Council.  On behalf of the Town Council and our partners we would also like to thank Kompan Ltd for a job extremely well done’.

The opening event included a blessing from the Reverend Michael Hedley, of the Word of Life Wesleyan Reform Church, before the official opening by the Member of Parliament for the Wansbeck Constituency, Mr Ian Lavery MP.  Mr Lavery recounted how he used to visit Peoples Park as a child and believed that the new facility will prove to be a tremendous asset for the town and on which residents can be rightly proud.

Following the opening school children from Bothal Primary School, who took part in the planning of the play area, were the first to use the facility.  Ashington’s own Mini Police Force, from the James Knott Campus, also came along to try out the new facility with activities provided by YMCA Northumberland.  The children then enjoyed a complimentary ice cream following their exertions.

Mr Paul Taylor, of Kompan Ltd, adds ‘It has been a pleasure to work in partnership with Ashington Town Council in designing and developing the new play facility. The flow throughout the site ensures that there is a solution for all ages to play and have fun. We are sure the site will be valued and used by residents for many years to come'.

In the photograph is Mr Ian Lavery MP, Ashington's Bothal Ward Councillors (Cllrs. Lynne Grimshaw, Matthew Cuthbert and Bob Walkinshaw), Rev Hedley and children from Bothal Primary School.