Play pods funding needed

YOUNGSTERS in North Somerset may no longer have access to play pods in the district when funding for the scheme runs out next year.

The six large containers, situated on playing fields in towns and villages including Nailsea, Clevedon and Pill, were introduced in June 2008 thanks to a �342,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

However, this money will come to an end in March and after that the future of the project is uncertain, as is the future of the six play rangers and one play development worker employed under the scheme.

A play pod is a lockable metal box full of den building materials, circus skills kit, sports equipment and art and craft materials. It also includes seating, tables and outdoor shelter equipment for rainy days.

The pods are aimed at 10-14-year-olds and are opened up by the play rangers, who go to each site twice a week to coordinate activities.

Pods can be found at Brookside in Pill, the Salthouse Fields in Clevedon, in Pound Lane in Nailsea and Hangstones Pavilion in Yatton. There is also one in Worle and one in Banwell.

In the hope of keeping hold of the play pods and play rangers, the town and parish councils for these places have been asked if they would take on the funding of their individual pod.

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If these councils do not want to take them on, the boxes may be moved to areas where the councils are willing to pay for them.

North Somerset Council’s executive member for children and young people’s service Jeremy Blatchford said: “When the project was set up we contacted a number of town and parish councils to see if they would like one.

“They were aware at the start that they would have the opportunity to take them over next year.

“We do not have the money in our budget to continue funding.

“The indication is that the pods have been very successful in some places. In others it has not been that easy to judge.

“This is a good opportunity for town or parish councils to do something that is affordable and makes a difference for their youngsters.”