If playground equipment could be listed on a heritage register, the former swings in the Point Wells Reserve – now dismantled – would surely have qualified. The photo shows the equipment in better days.
Auckland Council has dismantled two pieces of playground equipment in the Point Wells Reserve on the grounds that they are unsafe, despite the fact that they have entertained children for more than 70 years without any recorded incident.
The ‘witch’s hat’ merry-go-round and the ‘lullaby swing’ have been deemed “too dangerous”.
North parks acting manager Chris Burgess says the ‘witches hat’ collapsed and, due to its age and poor condition, was not able to be repaired to current playground standards.
A subsequent inspection of the second piece of equipment, the ‘lullaby swing’, found it also failed to meet the required safety standards.
“A risk of serious injury was identified and we were required to remove it,” Mr Burgess says.
A petition calling for the reinstatement of the lullaby swing has garnered strong support.
Organiser Peter Young says it’s time for communities to test the Health and Safety legislation and boundaries, and Council’s interpretation of the rules.
“In this case, they have really over-stepped the mark,” he says. “The swings were bought by the community and belonged to the residents, even though they were in a Council park. Council didn’t have the right to take them away without consulting with us, at the very least, and the ‘witch’s hat’ was not theirs to destroy.”
Mr Young believes that even if the community raised the funds to build a new witch’s hat, it would still fail to meet Health and Safety standards.
Peter says the current standards adopted by Council are based on European playground safety standards and are not entirely appropriate within this community.
Point Wells Residents & Ratepayers chair Graeme Beals describes the equipment as part of the history of the community.
“It was a place for young people to gather and the equipment was very well-used,” he says.
It is understood the witch’s hat was removed after a resident rang Council asking them to repair it.
Mr Burgess says staff met recently with the Point Wells residents’ group and Council will hold a consultation session involving local school children soon.
“We will get feedback on what type of equipment the local kids want to play on. We will look at a number of options, including play equipment that provides a similar play experience to the old equipment, as these were clearly popular items. We will also look at the location of the new equipment.”
Parks will look at installing the new equipment later this year.