Safety fears over playground

By Sonya Bateson


Worried mums are avoiding the new waterfront playground due to concerns about its proximity to deep water.

Vicky Roberts contacted the Bay of Plenty Times after a stressful and scary experience trying to keep her toddler away from the trains, the water and the carpark while keeping an eye on three other children. She said while the playground itself was fantastic, she would be avoiding it as it was too hard to keep children safe.

"I just don't understand how they can spend so much money on an awesome playground and have no fence.

"It was not a nice experience, my son loved it but I certainly didn't. How long is it going to take before a kid is bowled by a train or in the water?"

Even a small fence would help keep toddlers safe, Mrs Roberts said.

Mother of four Alison Muspratt said their family had decided they would not return to the playground unless both parents were present.

Mrs Muspratt's main concern was the water, she said. "At Memorial Park it's shallow because it's tidal but at the water front playground it's deep straight away.

There's not even a little fence along the water's edge. I've just been avoiding the park which is a concern because so much money went into it."

Juliet McGrath's two children are 4 and 6 years old. She said her children were a bit older but the proximity to the water was still a concern.

"It was the first thing I noticed, just standing around and there's a big drop right beside us. It's a fantastic playground but there's still a concern. I would support anything to improve the safety."

A Tauranga City Council spokeswoman said they had not received any complaints to date about the safety of the waterfront playground.

"The playground was designed and built by Playground Centre and was audited ... to ensure that it meets the current New Zealand playground safety standards. Safety and the hazards in the surrounding area were considered and ways to minimise them were factored into the design of the playground."

She said there were signs at the entrance to the waterfront identifying these hazards so that parents knew to be alert.

"While safety is our highest priority at all our playgrounds we can never completely eliminate all the risks or replace the need for parents and caregivers to supervise children."

The $300,000 playground opened in June.


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