PARENTS and campaigners will stage a protest at a playground on Saturday after the council revealed plans to close the facility.

Plans to remove the East Reading Adventure Playground Association (ERAPA) play area in Palmer Park have been opposed by a petition of more than 1,000 people.

Equipment at the popular play park is beginning to show its age, but opponents feel the authority should invest in new services, rather than shut it down.

The ERAPA play area is one of two facilities in the park, with the council preferring to invest its reduced funding into the play area next to Wokingham Road.

A 'play-in' will be held on Saturday from 10am in an effort to persuade Reading Borough Council (RBC) into having a change of heart.

Sara Davies of Reclaim Reading said: “The ERAPA playground is not only a valuable resource for kids with disabilities, but for families and children across the whole of East Reading.

“ERAPA was originally built by volunteers in the face of indifference from RBC, and although it is very popular with local youngsters it is hugely disappointing that the council obviously still fails to appreciate its value as a community asset.

“The proposal to shut the play area down has been drawn up behind closed doors by officers who do not use it as a service and by lead councillors who live nowhere near the communities who enjoy using it.

“RBC needs to fundamentally reassess the way in which it makes decisions over public services like ERAPA, and move away from its current 'we know best' approach to a new way of working with local residents to agree on how things will be run.”

Children and families from all over the area will be coming along to the play-in to show their support for ERAPA.

A council spokesman added: “A single larger play facility better serves people’s needs than two small playgrounds with less equipment and a degree of duplication.

“The council has significantly invested in the play area it owns next to Wokingham Road and the Palmer café. This play area is extremely popular and well used by people from across Reading."

RBC plans to invest further in this facility, including more accessible equipment.

The council believes the cost of maintaining separate areas in the park is not sustainable due to a ‘significant’ reduction in funding for play facility maintenance from 2018/19.