14/08/2014 16:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Council Replaces Playgrounds With 'Imaginative Play Spaces' To Save Money

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Boys playing in the park

Carlisle City Council have voted to scrap playground equipment at one-third of the city's play parks, replacing them with empty spaces for children to engage in 'imaginative play'.

The council cited budget cuts which make maintenance of the aging equipment impossible. Rather than risk structures becoming unsafe, councillors voted to remove slides, swings and roundabouts from one-third of the city's playgrounds.

Councillors were keen to emphasise that the parks were not being closed, but would be relabelled as 'imaginative play' spaces, with child-friendly soft landscaping. However some residents expressed frustration with the decision.

One local woman told ITV News: "There's just going to be nothing left for them."

The council maintains that all children will still be within 500m of a playground, and stressed that £60,000 had been set aside to ensure the upkeep of the city's most-used play parks. However the local resident who spoke to the news channel argued that not all play parks were suitable for all age groups.

Gareth Ellis, a Conservative Party councillor who is opposed to the council's decision, said a petition to save the playground equipment had garnered hundreds of signatures.

Ellis reprimanded the council for making the cuts shortly after approving a £1 million transformation of a former fire station into a new arts centre. "The council needs to reassess its priorities," Ellis told the BBC.

"Although the equipment is poor it is still extremely well used," he added, speaking in Metro.

Fellow councillor Elsie Martlew (Labour), blamed the decision on government budget cuts. She accused the coalition of 'hammering local authorities'.

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