Bicester residents have come together as the future of one of the town’s popular parks is under threat.

Under draft proposals released by the council, the children’s play area in Banbury Road could be demolished to make space for a community garden.

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However, the group says that local residents have not been adequately consulted in the plans and many feel strongly that the recreation area should be retained and refurbished instead.

Susan Hall has lived in Bicester for 34 years and regularly used the park with her children and now visits with her grandchildren.

She is now leading the campaign to save the equipment.

She said: “Banbury Road Park is a historic and much-loved park for families in the local area.

“The council only sent out 20 letters to local residents as a consultation, and they received two responses – one positive, one negative. This is simply not enough to gage the opinions of families who live nearby and have enjoyed the park for generations.

“Instead of considering plans to take away the children’s play area, the council should invest in the play equipment, so future generations can continue to have a space to call their own in this part of the town.”

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After the council conducted a review of Bicester’s play areas last year, twelve parks were earmarked for closure and it was decided that a letter be sent to local residents giving them the chance to have their say on whether they think the parks should close, and what could be done with the space instead.

The council published the results of the consultation in March which showed a handful of people responded to the letters.

For example four neighbours voted for the play area in Saffron Close to be converted into an 'informal space'.

One person voted for it to be refurbished, while six people did not respond.

In the case of the Banbury Road play area, one person voted for it to be a community garden, one person voted for it be refurbished while 18 people were unresponsive.

The council has informed the group that the Banbury Road park isn’t used, but the campaign group says this is based on research conducted during the winter of the Covid-19 pandemic - when residents were instructed not to use the equipment.

The campaign has the backing of local councillor, Michael Waine, who was involved when the park was first built in the 1960s.

He said: “Bicester Urban District Council purchased the land between Buckingham and Banbury Road, in response to the need for green space and a children’s play park in this area of Bicester.

“I clearly remember the plan having the backing of all twelve councillors, in an effort to ‘level-up’ the provision of play facilities in the town.

“When you consider the level of provision elsewhere in Bicester now, Banbury Road Park is even more necessary than it was in the 1960s.”

The fate of the park will next be discussed at the council’s environment meeting on May 24, where Mr Waine intends to speak in its defence.

After the consultation, parks in Coltfoot Leys, Grebe Road, Sanderling Court and Banbury Road were tied with some people wanting to keep and refurbish them and others voting for them to be transformed into communal gardens.

It would cost the council a lot more to refurbish the play areas with estimates of around £60,000 compared to £14,000 if turned into gardens.

The council is therefore recommended to choose just one of these parks to refurbish, hence Banbury Road being under threat from closure.

The council was contacted for comment but failed to respond.

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