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Mixed emotions at Morley Common playground opening

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THE opening of a new playground at Morley Common, Warrington was a “bitter sweet” emotion for local residents – as it is in the direct route of the proposed Western Link. 

While a host of smiling faces greeted the Mayor of Warrington, Les Morgan as he officially opened the new children’s playground at Morley Common, local residents said it was “bitter sweet” as it would be impacted by the revised red route for the Western link.

Joined by the ever popular Wolfie, Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid, local Councillors Tom Jennings, Steve Wright and Maureen McLaughlin he cut the red ribbon to declare the new play area open to the public.

In his speech Cllr Morgan said he felt great pride as the area was previously in his political ward. The area now falls under Bewsey and Whitecross but was until the recent boundary changes in the Latchford West constituency and councillors from both wards have worked towards making this much needed facility a reality.

Councillor Tom Jennings said: “I’m delighted that Morley Common has benefited from a brand new inclusive for all play area, achieved through the hard work of volunteers from the Friends of Morley Common group. It was fantastic to see so many families turn out for the opening and I hope the new park, which includes new equipment, an outdoor gym and upgraded surfacing and fencing, continues to be well used by the community.”

The playground cost £100,000 to build, jointly funded by the borough coucnil and landfill tax charity WREN and has been an ambition for local people for a long time as the old playground was seriously dilapidated and unfit for purpose.

Sadly the occasion was not all smiles as the day before the official opening, Warrington Borough Council announced its preferred route for the proposed Western Link Road.

The “Red” route was chosen and plans show it going straight through Morley Common where the new playground is situated. Residents are upset and perplexed as the decision means that the new facility will most probably have to be removed or re-sited at further cost.

Local resident Lisa Cooper said: ‘We welcome the new playground at Morley Common, it’s been a long time coming and we appreciate the support given by our local councillors to make it happen.

“However the timing of its arrival is bittersweet. Our community is located at the heart of two of the most significant set of planning proposals this town has seen in recent years. The Western Link and the Local Plan (Preferred Development Option).

“Morley Common lies in the path of the proposed Western Link. If the route goes ahead our community will be next to a building site for a considerable time. Access to green spaces enhances our quality of life and a busy road through the Common either next to or on the new playground is not an attractive proposition, our local community will be irrevocably changed.

“We will be subjected to even higher levels of pollution. Our town is already high on the list of poor air quality offenders – this will make matters worse. We oppose these plans because they fail to promote ours and future generations basic right to a decent quality of life. We all want to be able to make use of this valuable green space for many years to come.”

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