The Friends of the Valley Gardens are rallying round to raise funds to help replace the key piece of play equipment in the playground which was burned down in an arson attack in the early hours of 8 October 2011.
Harrogate Borough Council’s insurers have settled the claim providing the council with just under £48,000 to replace the fort, which children of all ages loved best.
However, the council’s insurance excess amounts to £5,000 which is the target the Friends have set themselves so that they can help the council make sure that the replacement is of equal value.
Should more than £5,000 be raised this will be spent on further play area improvements in the Valley Gardens.
Jane Blayney, of the Friends Group, says that like everyone else they were upset by this incident:
The council and the Friends have received a number of approaches with offers of help including a very generous offer of £2,000 from Menwith Hill Community Heart Beat. We didn’t want to set up the fund-raising campaign until we were sure what the funding gap would be. Like the council, we want to act quickly to fully reinstate this much-loved and admired playground. So we do hope that people will come forward and confirm their offer of support by making a donation. By making a donation it will enable us to make Valley Gardens an even better experience for all.
Councillor Caroline Bayliss, Cabinet Member for Cultural Services for Harrogate Borough Council, added:
The fort fire has been confirmed as arson and is not as a result of equipment fault or failure. But we want to take this opportunity to look at the design of the original fort and look at ways that it can be improved in terms of accessibility, management and maintenance but, more importantly, to offer children a fantastic play experience.
The fort was the centrepiece of the play area and we want the replacement to have the same wow factor. We are confident that we can find some options that will fit the bill. I would like to thank the Friends for setting up this campaign and we are thrilled with the generous donation from Menwith Hill Community Heart Beat. It is an excellent start.
On 8 December 2011 everyone can view the replacement ideas at a consultation event to be held at the Sun Pavilion from 2pm – 6.30pm. From this date the designs will also be available to view on the council’s website, on the Valley Gardens Playground Appeal Facebook page (formerly called the Find the Valley Gardens Arsonists) and a number of questionnaires will be sent to local schools. The deadline for consultation responses is 16 December.
If anyone would like to make a contribution the account details are as follows:
Name of Account: Friends of Valley Gardens Playground Appeal
Bank Name HSBC
Address 7 Prospect Crescent Harrogate HG1 1RN
Account Number 02230127 Bank Sort Code 40 23 12
Cash/cheques may be paid directly into the bank
Cheques can also be sent to Jim Clark (Treasurer Friends of Valley Gardens), 74 Green Lane, Harrogate, HG2 9LN