25 April 2019
In the continuing the bid to save the ERAPA play area, Cllr Josh Williams' has written an open letter to Cllr Sarah Hacker, the lead Councillor for Culture, Heritage & Recreation.
Thank you for your response to the petition of over 1,200 signatures asking you to save the ‘ERAPA’ play area in Palmer Park. Sadly, you rejected this, and your reply has been met with sadness by many residents.
I hope that, given the time to look at this further, you will be able to change your mind. Changing our minds is one of the most powerful and positive things a politician can do. It shows we listen, we understand, and we are strong enough to represent change.
ERAPA is a wonderful resource at a special location in a great local park. As a community we need play equipment installed at a range of locations in the park, to accommodate differing needs, and ERAPA does that beautifully. Its loss cannot be replaced by adding some equipment to the other, already larger, play area.
Our accessible play area has for years done the most wonderful job of enabling children in a wheelchair to play with children without mobility issues and all on the same equipment. This would be a great loss indeed, and the Council has the power and money to retain that wonderful mixture of adventure and inclusiveness on this site for years to come.
The ERAPA play area serves the community of Newtown, with its families hard-pressed to get their kids to and from a park and still get tea ready. The Council can help all those mums, dads, grandparents and children, and keep a fantastic play area within walking distance of their homes. It also serves the Pakistani Community Centre, the local day-care nursery, and many others. By saving this local play area, you can support the many local BAME families who will be impacted by its removal, as well as all the families with disabled children. Perhaps the Council could produce an Equalities Impact Assessment for this decision, in order to give it a solid foundation for changing its mind? As a Lead Councillor who has led on so many issues, including chronic medical conditions, I’m sure you’d welcome such an assessment.
It is communities that matter, not politics, and I know you care about the decisions you make. There is no shame in a change of heart, quite the opposite, and I hope you can think again about this one. Please do something wonderful and reconsider. You would have my full support. Come and join the children in the park and have a play!
My best regards,
Cllr Josh Williams, Park Ward
PS: Your response was in a public meeting, in front of the press and saved on the internet for all to see, so in fairness I’ll ask the Reading Green Party to put this letter online too, and copy the local paper.
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