Despite objections, the Wandsworth Council’s Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed on 12 February 2013 to close the One O’Clock Club in Battersea Park. However, it will now close on 31 August rather than 31 May.
The Committee also agreed that three concessions should be let as follows: for a child-centred café in the One O’Clock Club; for additional activities such as arts, crafts, drama or dance delivered by tutors or children’s entertainers in the Adventure Playground building; and for a tree walk/assault course/climbing activity to share the Adventure Playground site. Each of these would make a charge.
This appears to be a back door approach to charging for playground access.
When the Friends recently discovered the proposals to close the One O’Clock club the following letter was sent to councillors expected to vote on this issue.
BATTERSEA PARK ONE O’CLOCK CLUB AND ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND: PAPERS 13-102 AND 13-104
The Friends of Battersea Park are dismayed at the proposal to close the One O’Clock Club in the Park and the complete lack of consultation. The Council is in danger of destroying something that enriches people’s lives and makes a real difference. The factors that led Lady Allen to promote the Clubs in a period of post-war austerity remain just as compelling today. If the One O’Clock Club could be achieved then, it is a clear failure if it cannot be achieved now.
The One O’Clock club is a haven to many people from all backgrounds.It addresses a need when parents or carers can feel alone and vulnerable. Infants and pre-school children benefit hugely from the kindness, social interaction and stimulation on offer. With more imagination and sharing of the building, there should be another way forward.
There should be no doubt that the Friends wish the One O’Clock Club to continue in some form, but if the proposals in the papers are agreed, the Council must address the following points:
- Free, supervised entertainment should be provided at regular intervals in the adventure playground building so
- that all can share in the fun. It is essential that the outside open area be freely available to all.
- There should be no expansion of the built area without the provision of new compensating green space
- Contracts should be awarded on the basis of best value for money and absolutely not just to the highest bidder
- The buildings must be maintained to a high standard: the unacceptable shabbiness of the Gondola café must be avoided. We suggest regular review points in contracts to inspect the facilities and the quality of play and catering provision, with suitable sanctions and termination clauses for failure to meet standards.
- The One O’Clock Club should continue in its present form for as long as possible i.e. until the end of September, if that is when contracts are awarded, or much later if it takes longer to resolve legal issues such as leases, as in the case of Thrive. It must not be closed in May or June leaving the building empty and unused.
- Further consultation is necessary to ensure that use of the site complements or supports Battersea Park as required by open spaces legislation.
Yours sincerely, Frances Radcliffe, Chairman, Friends of Battersea Park