Gloves off in fight for Stonebridge
18 Sept 2014 I London Play
Professional boxing champion Audley Harrison has today thrown his weight behind a campaign to save Brent's Stonebridge Adventure Playground from demolition.
The Harlesden-raised boxer, fresh from the Celebrity Big Brother house, dropped into the playground this morning and donned a 'Keep Stonebridge Adventure Playground Open' t-shirt to show his support. He famously wore a similar t-shirt in the boxing ring ahead of his world heavyweight fight with David Haye in 2010, when the playground was last threatened with closure.
Stonebridge trustees were originally told that a development proposal to expand the adjacent primary school would involve the redevelopment and enlargement of the playground. However they were called to a meeting in August where council officers informed them that the playground would instead be demolished and that in future children will have to 'pay to play'.
In a letter sent to all 63 of Brent's councillors last week, playground trustees labelled the plans not only "a disgrace, but an insult to the whole community who have initiated and supported this project for what was hoped would soon become half a century."
The letter also highlights the achievements of the playground, which trustees say for the equivalent cost of employing one secondary school headteacher, has remained free to access, seven days a week and has brought in more than £3m in additional funding. The population of Brent - and that of Stonebridge in particular - has a relatively high proportion of 0-19 year olds and is also subject to high levels of child poverty.
The trustees acknowledge the financial challenges faced by the council, which will see its budget halved by 2018 - but say that it is "essential to find the money to keep this facility open and operational."
Cllr Ruth Moher, Brent Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, told the Brent and Kilburn Times: “The cabinet have agreed to carry out a public consultation on proposals that could see the creation of 210 new school places for local children at Stonebridge Primary, scores of much-needed new homes built and a new play area for children delivered on the surrounding land.”
The council cabinet is meeting on 15 December to "agree to revised proposals for the Stonebridge development."
PHOTO CREDIT: Lorraine King
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