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Saturday, March 6, 2021

GALLERY: Don’t tear it down: Crakanthorp, residents

A NSW Government plan to tear down a Hamilton South playground has earned the ire of Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp and neighbouring residents.

And, the local member is rallying with concerned locals from the social housing estate to stop the demolition of the Neill Terrace facility. 

Unfortunately for the public, the site has not been maintained to a basic safety standard, so the government is proposing that it be removed – with no replacement provided.

The decision’s met plenty of opposition.

“The playground’s been here since the early 1970s,” said Janice Patterson, a member of the Hamilton South Community Solutions Group.

“Even though it was upgraded in the 80s, it’s deteriorated over time.

“Now, it’s dangerous for kids because it isn’t equipped for them.

“Children can get caught in the equipment, or trip over on the uneven surface.

“It’s a very popular area but the government wants to rip it up and replace it with turf.

“The funny thing is, a new fence was installed during COVID-19, which would have cost money.

“It makes no sense.”

Neill Terrace playground in South Hamilton. Photos: Rod Thompson

On hearing the residents’ displeasure, Mr Crakanthorp began a petition.

So far, it boasts 200 signatures, however another 300 are needed for it to progress to the minister.

“Tim’s been amazing,” Ms Patterson said.

“Everything we’ve asked for, he’s stepped up.

“It’s lovely to know we have such huge support.

“There are about 1000 residents in this estate – and only two playgrounds.

“The older people want their grandchildren to play in it whenever possible.”

The government recently sold another two social housing properties at the end of 2020, with the Stockton assets fetching $1.9 million.

In the past decade, 82 similar estates have also been unloaded, netting more than $50 million, including almost $10 million in Bar Beach.

“This is a case of demolition by neglect – and it’s disgraceful,” Mr Crakanthorp told the Newcastle Weekly.

“It’s shameful the NSW Government can’t maintain its own resource or provide basic community infrastructure.

“The cost of a new playground is a drop in the ocean, possibly $50,000, compared to what they’ve made selling off social housing property.

“For many Hamilton South residents, getting in the car to go somewhere else simply isn’t an option.

“The value of facilities for families to gather and for kids to be active cannot be understated.

“Everyone deserves access to community infrastructure, regardless of whether you live in social, affordable or private housing.

“I’ve written to the minister – and eagerly await his response.”

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