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burgess hill sand pitValue for money? A Town Centre Sand Pit Costing £7,500 for Just 4 Weeks Of Use

16th June 2017
by Peter Chapman

Burgess Hill Town Council are about to spend £7,500 to place a sand pit outside their Help Point for just 4 weeks in August.

The item was discussed at the Customer Services Key Area Group meeting on Wednesday (June 14 ) with a recommendation to be passed on to the full council. Yet the outcome appears to have been pre-determined by council staff, with all the arrangements already in place.

Taking influence from other towns such as Worthing, the town council think that having a sand pit at the bottom of Church Walk will help increase dwell time in the centre and boost the local businesses where the sand pit is located. (The dry cleaners?)

The pit will be 10 metres x 5 metres in size and be constructed out of railway sleepers.

The costings are:
£6,500 - Cost of the pit
£450 - Removal and storage
£240 - Weekend staff to open, inspect and cover the pit
£720 - Rubber matting around the perimeter

Total Cost £7,510

The council admitted that the sand pit may only be used for just one year, but if it is used in future years, then the cost for each additional year would be £4,400 which includes changing the sand.

The area outside the council Help Point where the sand pit will be located.

Cllr Mandy Thomas-Atkin wasn't convinced, She told the committee
"I wouldn't have brought them (my children) to a town centre to have done that, I would rather of had a greener area. You can't confine children to sand pits because they want to get in, get out, wander off, it wouldn't have been for my children to be honest."

Mandy also raised the issue that the children would be covered in sand on exiting the area and that it would end up in the shops. She wanted to know what the council would be doing about this.

Town Clerk Steve Cridland simply responded with:
We had thought about it, but there's nothing much we can do about it, so..."

The council will be removing 4 benches to enable the sand pit to be located outside the Help Point. There is no room for any seating at all around the sand pit for parents to use while their children play. Other town's have made it a themed facility, in Burgess Hill it will just be the pit.

It was also noted that the Martlets Shopping centre offered to pay £3,000 towards the cost of the project and to have the sand pit located in the large public square by Lidl. This was dismissed by the council as they thought the market stalls would get in the way on a Wednesday and Saturday (yet the Martlets have lots of room to move the stalls elsewhere) The council were also keen to have it by the Help Point to show it was THEIR facility.

Cllr Colin Holden said:
"At the moment, this end of town is becoming the poor relation to some extent, and I think that anything that revitalises this end of town is a good idea - albeit for only a few short number of weeks - and it shows that we are really doing our bit for the town, and trying to keep the whole town centre in use for the whole year."

Your reporter can't help but wonder if all these thousands of pounds would be better spent on a feature that is usable for all 12 months of the year at the bottom of Church Walk?

If Cllr Pru Moore hadn't of nabbed the £65k of Public Art money for her own pet projects around the green circle, then we could have seen a high quality installation introduced to really make an impact in the town centre. It's a shame we were robbed of ever having that discussion, because seemingly only our councillors are allowed to choose what we have in this town.

Spread the word, it's a forgone conclusion that Burgess Hill are getting a very expensive temporary sand pit paid for out of the public purse.

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
So, what do you readers think? Is it value for money to spend £7,500 of public money on a sand pit for just 4 weeks?

Will it really boost the businesses at that end of town which are essentially a dry cleaners, a nail salon, a dressmakers and lots of empty units?

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