Residents claim revamp of Bidbury Mead in Havant has made their lives a misery

Councillor Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council

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NEIGHBOURS are demanding action as they claim a revamped play area is making their lives a misery.

Bidbury Mead, a historic park in Bedhampton, has undergone a major transformation after its play area was given a £30,000 makeover, including installing mounds, a zip-wire and other large outdoor equipment.

BUSY The play area at Bidbury Mead has proven popular since its �30,000 makeover                                   Picture: Allan Hutchings (142255-758c)

BUSY The play area at Bidbury Mead has proven popular since its �30,000 makeover Picture: Allan Hutchings (142255-758c)

While many have embraced the changes and swarmed to the new facilities, neighbours whose homes and gardens back on to Bidbury Mead say it’s made their lives a misery, with claims Havant Borough Council did not consult them over the revamp.

The mounds are just a few yards from their properties and mean children and adults can peer into their living rooms and gardens. A play trumpet has been installed allowing children to speak into it. Residents are now seeking an acoustic barrier to be installed and want the play area to include fencing, as the old park did.

Concerns have been raised as the toilets are shut most of the time, leading to children and adults using bushes.

Susan Kell, 58, said: ‘It’s having a big impact. Obviously the noise – the other day it was going on until 2.30am from 7.30am. Our privacy has gone.

‘Kids used to play in the park but not to this scale of screaming.’

Her husband John Kell, 66, has motor neurone disease and can no longer sleep in the afternoon.

Becky Howarth, 46, said: ‘It’s 12 to 14 hours of screaming children.

‘Then at night you get the teenagers with their alcohol and expletives who think it’s a great idea to scream and shout. Our privacy now does not exist.’

Her husband Russ Howarth added: ‘Consultation was zilch. They did not consult the people it affects the most.’

The scheme was paid for after Bidbury Mead won in a public poll in the national ‘Transform Your Patch’ campaign, sponsored by Britvic.

Bedhampton councillor Ken Smith agreed there was a problem.

He said: ‘It’s a really fantastic park. We should thank county councillor Liz Fairhurst for all the work she did and the Friends of Bidbury Mead.

‘I have never seen the park so full of families and children having fun. But there are problems which appear to have been unforeseen.’

Cllr Fairhurst, who represents Leigh Park and Bedhampton, said: ‘The play park is a super facility for families and children in the area, and is really popular. It is a great shame that this is causing distress to nearby residents but the safer neighbourhood team is already aware of the problem with late-night usage and are dealing with it.

‘I hope we can find a way to reduce the disturbance to those living nearby without denying families the use of this fabulous facility.’

Jackie Batchelor, executive head for environment and neighbourhood quality at Havant Borough Council, said there was ‘considerable consultation’.

She added: ‘This was conducted by Groundwork South on behalf of Bidbury Mead Friends, in particular, they carried out 250 visits to local residents. They also made visits to local schools, clubs and societies, as well as holding an engagement session in Asda on two occasions at the weekends.

‘There was also a prominent presence at the Bedhampton Summer Show 2013 when thousands attended. Without this extensive dialogue and support it is unlikely that the funding would have been gained from Britvic to undertake the work.’

She added: ‘The noise is a sign of a successful playground and a well used park.’

She said the toilets were only opened when events are held, but said opening arrangements were under review across the Havant borough.