Wentworth Falls Lake Park fails safety audit - softfall no longer safe

One of the region's four district parks has been left without popular playground equipment after it failed a routine safety audit this month.

Council officers removed the swings and monkey bars/trolley ride at Wentworth Falls Lake Park on Friday July 24 and did not propose to replace them for about 12 months, because a major upgrade is planned.

The annual independent playground safety audit on July 20 showed the rubberised soft fall at the playground is "not-compliant for certain impact falls".

"Kids can still play on the slide, clatter bridge, bridge chain, low level climbing elements, as well as the pirate ship at the other end of the park. The removed play equipment will be replaced next year," a council notice placed at the site after the event said.

But at the monthly council meeting on Tuesday night [July 28] Labor Cr Romola Hollywood intervened, raising it as a matter of urgency.

"The community reaction was almost immediate and overwhelmingly negative," she said. "There were 100 comments [on the council social media site]."

Cr Hollywood called the decision "unacceptable".

"There are no plans to fix the safety issues in the short-term, as the equipment is due to be fully upgraded as part of the City Deals project next year. Wentworth Falls Lake is a heavily used park by children and families. We can't have this play equipment, due to problems with the softfall, out of action for all this time."

This is too long for this equipment at a District Park to be out of action

Cr Romola Hollywood

She said the park was heavily used by locals and visitors from Sydney and beyond.

"We need some kind of stop-gap measure to get this equipment back and up and running."

Parent and park regular Alison Biar said her two young children, Skye, 2, and Jack, 14 months, were very disappointed the swings had disappeared.

"Skye said 'I can't play'. At first I thought, great, the upgrade is coming on fast."

Mrs Biar said she appreciates safety comes first, but can't understand the lengthy delay. She's looking forward to an improved playground.

The elected council voted unanimously to support an urgent briefing to look at options to reinstate the removed equipment, to replace or repair the softfall or bring forward the park upgrade.

It's the second time this year council staff have removed play equipment just prior to a weekend without giving notice to residents or the elected councillors. Play equipment in Springwood town centre (next to IGA) was removed earlier this year to community outcry.

Other residents supported a speedy return of the lake park equipment.

Jean Nicholson told Cr Hollywood on her Facebook page: "With the number of both residents and tourists visiting this park and so much else being restricted thanks to COVID19, sports, etc, it is essential that the whole play area be fixed up ASAP and that isn't sometime in 2021."

The briefing to resolve the issue will consider alternatives like mulch for the site. Mayor Mark Greenhill said he expected the briefing to take place by August 4.