Bognor Regis Herald — Arun Council reported over Hothamton Play Area Safety failings

Read Full Edition of the Herald HERE

Self-closing gate does not close — also opens inwards against current advice — see below

Fed up with what he describes as a wholly inadequate response to calls from the Town Council to remedy serious defects in the maintenance of the well-used Hothamton Play Area in the town centre, Labour Councillor Jan Cosgrove (Orchard Ward) has taken the step of reporting Arun Council to the Health and Safety Executive.

low walls offer no barrier to dogs

In the complaint he has outlined non-working or absent self-closing safety gates which he says obviously were fitted originally because Arun assesses there is a risk from dog access. In a press story Arun claimed it has the site regularly under review and that there was no concern over dogs accessing the site. “So since they put the gates there, dogs have grown rubber teeth perhaps, or know they mustn’t just wander into the play area?”

Cllr Jim Brooks at Hothamton Play Area

He said he had pointed the HSE specifically to Arun’s Head of Parks, Philippa Dart, as ultimately responsible. “No one would forgive Arun if a dog accessed the play area either through a non-existent or faulty safety gate or leaping over a very low wall and attacked and injured or worse a child. I am seeking to prevent that, and the Town Council fully supported Cllr Jim Brooks and I when we

Cllr Cosgrove at Play Area

asked them to pass the recent resolution which was sent to Arun very quickly after. Arun’s response was frankly a disgrace. Is it because they intend to remove the play area for their thin strip of lawn (sorry, ‘Linear Garden’) when they build flats there?”

The Playground is targeted to be removed as part of Arun’s redevelopment of the area and replaced by a ‘linear park’ which has been the subject of strong criticism including by Hugh Coster of the Civic Society. Cllr Cosgrove says cost has no place in this discussion: “Ms Dart should read what happened to a two-year old toddler earlier this year at Chatham, seriously mauled, SCALPED. Local kids there braved the attack to drag the dog away from her, can anyone imagine the terror this caused to all of them? Ms Dart should get weaving and sort this out. A court case re negligence after an attack is not what we want to see.”

Self-closing gate missing for many months

Clllr Cosgrove pointed to recent press stories where attacks had taken place, both distressing and serious. “Arun may think it can just ignore this issue, but I would be failing in my duty to ensure public safety if I did not take this further. Never mind some supposed regeneration in a few years, action is needed now. Arun is not serving the public interest on this.”

Councilor Cosgrove’s recent Freedom of Information request to Arun Council:

The RSPCA has clear views on this issue:

In the above: “The play area should either be kept secure with a self-closing gate, or with a dog grid. If gates are used a weak self-closing spring (capable of being operated by a five year old but closing within 3–8 seconds) should be used to keep the gate closed. The gate should open outwards as an inward opening gate could be opened by accident by a large dog leaning against it. Such a dog would then find itself trapped inside and under these circumstances the most even-tempered dog might panic and attack someone.”

PRESS STORIES RE DOG ATTACKS IN PLAY AREAS

Another, in The Croydon Advertiser, reported how a dog was ripped to pieces by two staff-type dogs in a play area in front of terrified children.

We have also found other stories:

Letters between Bognor Regis Town and Arun Councils