Sep 6 2012 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
CHILDREN will continue to be able to use an adventure playground in Harlesden that is much-loved by generations of family members.
There was uncertainty about the future of Stonebridge Adventure Playground in Shakespeare Avenue after previous funding ended.
Campaigners including Olympic Gold medal-winning heavyweight boxer Audley Harrison called for cash to save the the place he visited during his youth in the early 1980s.
Labour-run Brent Council’s executive committee approved a £187,000 grant on Monday last week to ensure free, seven day a week access for youngsters until March 2014 and the provision of after school, half-term and summer holiday clubs.
Doug Lee, operations manager of Brent Play Association that runs the playground among other projects, said: “The children who use it now are the grandchildren of the original users and all the staff used the playground when they were at primary school.
“The Big Lottery Fund that we accessed some years ago has finished and it coincided with the Spending Review of 2010 where the series of cuts by the government started to hit local authority.
“The issue was whether or not the local authority could find a way to keep the project going and it was a big battle because adventure playgrounds can be very valuable to property developers because of their size.
“Thankfully the council has recognised that we’re coming up to our 40th anniversary and doing work that the charity has done not just for the local established community but several voluntary groups as well, and has awarded the grant.”
Brent Play Association was the only bidder for grant money put up for grabs once the council scrapped its idea to tender the management of the playground on the open market due to a lack of interest from commercial providers. During this period, the association received interim payments to tide it over.
Mr Lee said: “We have never had any long-term funding commitment and we’ve been through this many times before, and sometimes even more seriously, and we hope to maintain the relationship with the local authority.”
A Brent Council spokesman said: “We are pleased to be able to continue to provide financial support to the Stonebridge Adventure Playground. Since opening, the adventure playground has successfully offered both term-time and holiday activities that have supported thousands of parents and children.”