Conservative and Lib Dem 2019 election candidates in Redlands and Park wards have added their backing to a Green Party-led campaign to save a playground in east Reading.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) is planning to close the London Road side East Reading Adventure Playground – known as ERAPA – in Palmer Park due to budget concerns.

Alice Carter and John Hoggett have set up a Facebook group ‘Save ERAPA’ in their ongoing battle for failing equipment at the playground in Palmer Park to be replaced.

They will meet Sarah Hacker, Lead Councillor for Parks and Leisure, on Saturday at 2pm to make their case.

Adam Phelps, Conservative candidate for Park ward said: “I am familiar with ERAPA as I live within the ward and often take my young daughter to play on the equipment there.

“I support your campaign. If elected on Thursday, I will be in a position to offer you more tangible support, particularly if the Conservative group takes control of the council.”

Beth Vincent, Conservative candidate for Redlands, added: “I do believe that closing the park without a like for like replacement on the same sight is short-sighted and I am therefore in support of your campaign.”

Graham Alexander, Lib Dem candidate for Park ward, said: “I don’t expect to be elected in Redlands as it seems to be a Labour v Green contest. To the extent I can, I will do what I can for ERAPA.”

A petition set up by Green councillor and Park candidate Josh Williams, with over 1,200 supporters, was handed in to RBC at a meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday, March 26, at 6.30pm.

Cllr Williams wrote a letter to councillor Sarah Hacker, lead member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, earlier this month, calling for a rethink.

Councillor Sarah Hacker, lead member for Culture, Heritage & Recreation, said: “There will be full consultation with disabled children and their parents so any new equipment is what they actually want and need.

“This will be across the town. Other parks need far more work to be accessible. Children across town should be able to access play facilities.”

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.

Councillor Graeme Hoskin, lead member for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, said he believes in expanding accessible play equipment in Palmer Park and making the ‘main play area’ – on the Wokingham Road side – more disabled friendly.

He said, however, that he would consider supporting ‘low maintenance cost’ play and climb equipment at the ERAPA site.

John Hoggett, of Reclaim Reading, said: “Cllrs Hacker and Hoskin are sticking to their position but are not justifying it in terms of hard figures or referencing to the opinions of disabled children or their parents.

“Neither are they taking into account the needs of children of Newtown who use that play area.

“Cllr Hoskin thinks that replacing ERAPA with low maintenance equipment while setting up new accessible equipment elsewhere would be cheaper than just maintaining ERAPA.

“That makes no sense to me.”

Alice Carter, of the Save ERAPA Facebook group, added: “Council staff always talk about making leisure facilities accessible to all, but we haven’t seen any recent improvements in facilities for wheelchair users.”

Elections are taking place today (Thursday, May 2, 2019), with results expected between 1 and 3am on Friday morning.