PARENTS have thrown their support behind a campaign to improve a playground and “create a sense of ownership”.

Campaigners are fighting for at least £5,000 to bring Onslow Gardens Park in South Woodford up to the standard of other parks in the borough.

The park benefited from £2,693 from the council’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) but campaigners say this is not enough.

South Woodford Tories, who launched the campaign, said users raised issues around lighting, quality of play facilities and signage.

Priscilla Heaton, a mother of two, said: “Fly-tipping is a consistent and visible problem at the front of the play area entrance. 

“At times it’s like someone dumps an entire garden there – fences, a fridge and nails, which is a concern for dogs. The perpetrators wouldn’t be doing it if people were in the playground.

“There’s lots of wildlife that’s lovely in the summer but it’s dirty and you can’t really enjoy it.”

Mrs Heaton moved to South Woodford ten years ago and was excited about the prospect of living next to a park. 

However, her enthusiasm vanished after she saw the park and play facilities. She takes her two daughters, aged six and eight, and German Shorthaired Pointer elsewhere.

The mother-of two said: “I’ll drive to Connaught Park and Wanstead Park because it’s safer and there’s more people there. It’s frustrating to drive your dog on a walk

“It’s not attractive to go to but if there was a proper play area dogs would walk around it and you could keep an eye on the kids. More lighting would make me feel safer.”

More investment would boost local pride in something worth preserving.

Mrs Heaton argued: “If people saw investment they would treat it with more respect. It would actually discourage litter. More families would go. 

“Families I know have to go to Wanstead Park rather than support the local one.

“If the council improve the park you could get more users, you would have more respect, less littering – there would be a sense of ownership.”

Vanya Marks, a parent who lives in Wanstead, backed the campaign and claimed the area was in real need of improvement.

She said: “In the local area near Nightingale Primary School there is a real lack of anywhere safe for kids to play outside. South Woodford lacks green spaces generally, and the ones there are such as Roding Valley are unsuitable and unsafe.

“A lot of people, including me, live in flats with no gardens, so outdoor public spaces are vital for families and children who need fresh air and exercise on a daily basis.

“While Onslow Gardens does have play equipment, it would benefit from a refresh with some updated equipment, better signage, lights, rubbish bins and safe-landing surfaces. Anything to encourage kids outside for a run around.”

Click here to view the petition.