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Long Preston playing field closure branded ‘hysterical’
10:00am Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
Youngsters in Long Preston have been left with nowhere to play after the village playing field was temporarily closed amid safety fears.
But the action taken by the land owner, Long Preston Parish Council, has been described as “intemperate and hysterical” by the local playing fields association which leases the land.
The council decided to close the field – adjacent to the primary school and used by pupils – after it discovered it had been sprayed with fertiliser.
It says it was advised to do so by Craven District Council’s environmental health team.
It also notified local schools, nurseries and surgeries of possible health risks and urged anyone who had been on or near the playing field and showed any sign of sickness to contact their doctor immediately.
Parish council chairman Coun Philip Johnston said: “As the parish council owns the fields and, legally, would be responsible for any mishap or danger to the public, there was no alternative to such action being agreed.”
However, Pauline Joyce, secretary of the playing fields association, said the council had over-reacted and there had never been a risk to public health.
“All they have done is create a public health scare,” she said. “Fertiliser had been spread on only part of the field and it was nowhere near the children’s play area. The whole thing is ridiculous.”
She said the affected area could have been roped off, but, instead, metal barriers had been erected barring any access, which has prevented the association from completing vital roof repairs to the playing field pavilion.
“We cannot get to the building to make it watertight,” she explained. “It is full of equipment which was paid for by generous donations from the public and could be ruined.
“What annoys me is that we are a group of volunteers who give up our time, expertise and, in many cases our own money, to provide this village with a place where children can play.
“The council’s actions are intemperate and hysterical and I am very, very angry. I am at a loss to understand why we were not consulted. I only hope common sense prevails.”
An environmental health spokesman for Craven District Council the decision to close the playing field was the parish councils.
He added: “The department was informed that slurry spreading had taken place on the playing field and was asked for advice.
“The standard withdrawal period for such places, camping fields, festival fields and the like, is 28 days. This has been found to reduce the risk of infection by pathogens in the slurry to an acceptable level. The parish council was advised accordingly.
The playing field is due to re-open on October 27. The issue is expected to be raised at an extraordinary meeting of the parish council tonight.
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