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Swings are left out of new playground design in Devon because of farcical EU rules that weren’t ditched despite Brexit


Families are devastated after the swings were removed from a new playground due to farcical EU rules that weren’t ditched despite Brexit

The coastal park in Beer, Devon, is being replaced by a pirate-themed play area complete with a slide and ship-themed climbing frame. 

But it will no longer include any swings due to safety requirements set out by the EU that require the seats to be at least 300mm apart.

This, among other factors, has meant that the play area would not have enough space for both swings if the council wants to abide by the rules and minimise the risk of injury claims. 

The saga has caused outrage among local families who say they have been enjoying the swings at the park for more than 40 years.  

Families are devastated after the swings were removed from a new playground due to farcical EU rules that weren't ditched despite Brexit

Families are devastated after the swings were removed from a new playground due to farcical EU rules that weren’t ditched despite Brexit

The saga has caused outrage among local families who say they have been enjoying the swings at the park for more than 40 years

The saga has caused outrage among local families who say they have been enjoying the swings at the park for more than 40 years

The coastal park in Beer, Devon, is being replaced by a pirate-themed play area complete with a slide and ship-themed climbing frame

The coastal park in Beer, Devon, is being replaced by a pirate-themed play area complete with a slide and ship-themed climbing frame

John Heath, an independent councillor for East Devon district council, told The Telegraph: ‘Families have complained to me, saying ‘we want the swings’ – around 15 to 20 mothers and some fathers too. 

‘They’re frustrated, I’m frustrated, we’re all frustrated by this

‘I certainly sympathise with them, and would be vociferously calling for the swings to come back myself if rules allowed it – but I’m not a legislator, and I’m not going to compromise on children’s safety.

‘There were swings in that park for more than 40 years – my wife’s children used to play on them, and they brought a lot of joy and happiness to children. 

‘But the swings were past their sell-by date and couldn’t be replaced with new swings as the health and safety rules are different now compared to 40 years ago.’

He also explained that the park was built on top of sewage pipes and therefore there were manhole covers that had to remain accessible if the park was to be redeveloped. 

Although the UK left the EU in 2020, more than 4,000 pieces of European legislation have remained enshrined in British law.

This was done to prevent parliamentarians from having to rewrite thousands of laws that the UK adopted over the course of 47 years of EU membership and wanted to keep.  

John Heath, an independent councillor for East Devon district council, explained that the park was built on top of sewage pipes and therefore there were manhole covers that had to remain accessible if the park was to be redeveloped

John Heath, an independent councillor for East Devon district council, explained that the park was built on top of sewage pipes and therefore there were manhole covers that had to remain accessible if the park was to be redeveloped

Although the UK left the EU in 2020, more than 4,000 pieces of European legislation have remained enshrined in British law

Although the UK left the EU in 2020, more than 4,000 pieces of European legislation have remained enshrined in British law

EU rules have meant that if the park was to be refurbished or rebuilt, the swings would have to be removed as there is not enough room

EU rules have meant that if the park was to be refurbished or rebuilt, the swings would have to be removed as there is not enough room

The EN1176 rule, which was introduced in 1999, defines safety requirements for children’s playground equipment. 

It sets out how far each swing must be apart, how high they are off the ground and limits the number of swings per bay to two.   

The rules have meant that if the park was to be refurbished or rebuilt, the swings would have to be removed as there is not enough room. 

Liberal Democrat councillor, Geoff Jung, who announced the remodelling of the playground admitted that the EU rules were one of the factors behind the removal of the swings.

He said: ‘At Beer, there is a pirate-themed area with a slide and a ship climbing frame – although it wasn’t possible to include a swing [due to the space required by the European standards], we’ve selected the designs that provide the most play value and that reduce environmental impact through recycled materials.

‘We are confident local children and visitors alike will love the new facilities.’

The removal of the swings hasn’t just angered local families, but also sparked a backlash on the Conservative politicians. 

David Jones, a senior Conservative MP said this was just ‘another example’ of why we need to get rid of EU law. 

Liberal Democrat councillor, Geoff Jung, said: 'We are confident local children and visitors alike will love the new facilities'

Liberal Democrat councillor, Geoff Jung, said: ‘We are confident local children and visitors alike will love the new facilities’

David Jones, a senior Conservative MP said this was just 'another example' of why we need to get rid of EU law

David Jones, a senior Conservative MP said this was just ‘another example’ of why we need to get rid of EU law

Accessibility of manhole covers to sewage pipes beneath the park and the presence of a nearby historic monument reportedly influenced the decision

Accessibility of manhole covers to sewage pipes beneath the park and the presence of a nearby historic monument reportedly influenced the decision

East Devon District Council denied that the swings were removed solely due to the EN1176 rule and said the decision was instead influenced by 'various reasons'

East Devon District Council denied that the swings were removed solely due to the EN1176 rule and said the decision was instead influenced by ‘various reasons’

Kemi Badenoch has also promised to review hundreds of pieces of EU legislation to make the UK ‘more business friendly’. 

East Devon District Council denied that the swings were removed solely due to the EN1176 rule and said the decision was instead influenced by ‘various reasons’. 

Accessibility of manhole covers to sewage pipes beneath the park and the presence of a nearby historic monument also reportedly influenced the decision.

A council spokesperson said: ‘There are various reasons why the plans for this particular park, with its limited space, do not include swings.’

They added the council worked with ‘three specialist companies, experienced in building play parks’ who put forward three designs which did not include any swings.

The spokesperson added: ‘Even if sufficient space were available, the play area would consist of only a single set of swings, offering poor play value compared to the themed and tailored ship currently being delivered.’

‘Children’s safety is of paramount importance. As a council providing facilities for children, it is imperative that we adhere to these standards to minimise the risk of incidents.’

A council spokesperson said: ‘There are various reasons why the plans for this particular park, with its limited space, do not include swings.’

They explained that the authority had worked with three specialist companies who build play parks to come up with three designs that don’t include swings. 

The park was built back in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee with the swings being added 40 years ago

The park was built back in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee with the swings being added 40 years ago 

The coastal park in Beer, Devon, is being replaced by a pirate-themed play area complete with a slide and ship-themed climbing frame

The coastal park in Beer, Devon, is being replaced by a pirate-themed play area complete with a slide and ship-themed climbing frame

The spokesperson added: ‘Even if sufficient space were available, the play area would consist of only a single set of swings, offering poor play value compared to the themed and tailored ship currently being delivered.’

‘Children’s safety is of paramount importance. As a council providing facilities for children, it is imperative that we adhere to these standards to minimise the risk of incidents.’

The park in Beer was built back in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee with the swings being added 40 years ago.  



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