CAMPAIGNERS urged the council to have change of heart by staging a peaceful protest.

The playground at Palmer Park, near the London Road entrance, faces being closed by Reading Borough Council (RBC).

Opposition councillors and parents slammed the suggestion, insisting it was a very popular and vital asset for the community.

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.

East Reading Adventure Playground Association (ERAPA) was originally responsible for purchasing and installing the equipment.

When the group closed, RBC agreed to take responsibility for the site.

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.”

The current equipment does not comply with EU safety standards and so the entire site would be need to be replaced if it is to have a long-term future.

A council spokesman said: “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."