Playground in Tower Hamlets starts charging kids for entry while another playground gets council funding boost

A popular playground in Tower Hamlets has this week started charging kids in one of the country’s poorest boroughs for using its facilities.

Weavers Fields playground off Bethnal Green Road yesterday began charging an entry fee of �1.50 for non-members and 50p for members. And unless the staffed play ground, which had 11,000 visits by children last year, can secure more funding for its play area run by the voluntary sector it faces closes next month.

It comes as the Town Hall announced it is injecting �24,000 into another charity-run playground with Mayor Lutfur Rahman claiming it comes at a time when other London councils are “introducing charges for children to play in their parks.”

The Town Hall says it stepped in after external funding for the award winning Glamis Adventure Playground came to an end and that the council grant will help to tide the charity over until further funding becomes available for the playground in Glamis Road later in the year.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlets Council, said: “Glamis Adventure Playground is a fantastic facility that means so much to the children and young people that use it. I’m pleased to provide this funding so that their good work can continue especially at a time when some London councils are introducing charges for children to play in their parks.”

But with Weavers Fields now charging kids to enter its play area at least one playground in Tower Hamlets has gone done the same track. Playworker Victor Williams said: “If we don’t get extra funding we’ll need to close in September or October. We depend on a variety of different grants and at the moment we’re writing ‘begging letters’ to banks for funding. It’s not nice to put it this way, but that’s how it is.”

Mr Williams had a stark warning to inner London boroughs like Tower Hamlets if playgrounds close.

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“Everybody needs somewhere to keep our children. I believe not only petty crime but also vandalism will go up, not because young people are criminally minded but because they will get bored,” he warned.

Mr Williams said the playground needs a minimum �6,000 a month to stay open because of staff cost and that the annual council grant of 22,913, plus an additional council grant of �13,000, is “not enough”

The playground, which 3,377 children aged up to sixteen years old are registered with, has already seen staff axed from four to two full-time workers and opening hours cut from seven days a week to five.