Dear Members of the Village.
There has been a lot of concern amongst our parishioners in the last few months over closing the Sparrows Green Recreation Ground.
A number of people voiced their opinions via social media that they would like the Recreation Ground to be open and accessible to support children’s mental health during these challenging times due to lack of activity and home schooling, versus parishioners who raised concerns as they are vulnerable to serious illness or death from Covid-19 or have elderly parents / relatives who are at risk. The Parish Council believes it is essential to consider the whole community and balance the needs of all.
The Government guidelines place the responsibility and onus onto the owners/operators of Recreation facilities, in this instance, the Parish Council. While they say that we can open parts of the Recreation Ground, this must only be done if it is safe to following formal risk assessment.
As there was a diversity of views within the Parish Council, the Council commissioned an outside professional risk assessor to conduct a risk assessment and propose any Covid-19 control measures to enable the Recreation Ground’s safe opening.
The independent report was completed in January and concluded that it was not safe to open the Recreation Ground. Subsequently, in light of changes, including changes to the Government advice, the Parish Council decided to commission a further risk assessment in February.
The risk assessment included control measures that took time to be agreed upon. All risks were assessed, and the required actions included all the safety measures implemented within the Parish Council resource framework.
The Parish Council has learned from this. The Parish Council was aware of the facts; many of our parishioners were not aware of these facts nor raised their concerns with the Council.
Three meetings were held in January and February in which the Recreation Ground was discussed at length. Like all Parish Council meetings these were open to members of the public. Please note no members of the public were present at these meetings had anyone wished to raise concerns or understand all the details behind these decisions.
Parish Council meetings are open to the public and have an allocated time slot for the public to address the Council. Meetings are advertised on the Council’s website. In addition, parishioners are welcome to write, call or email the clerk.
Despite the bad press which the Parish Councillors has recently received, the Councillors are approachable volunteers who give up their own time to help their community. Alongside managing village facilities such as the recreation ground, the Parish Council provides grants to support village activities, oversees the general appearance of the village, engages with local businesses and community groups, supports environmental issues such as dark-skies and biodiversity, comments on planning applications, and liaises with other government organisations.
We still do not know if we have got it right, any more than the government has or has not got it right since the beginning of this Virus. We can all only do our best.
The Parish Council Communications Committee.