Swinging idea raised for disabled

01:57, Jul 28 2014
Ryan Webb
CHAIR CHEER: Springlands School pupil Ryan Webb, 10, with mum Kate Webb at the school’s playground. The district council is reviewing its playground facilities to see if they are suitable for disabled children.

Marlborough's playgrounds could soon have swings suitable for disabled children.

Several ratepayers raised the need with the Marlborough District Council during this year's annual plan hearings.

The request was for a "liberty" swing that could be used by children and others in a wheelchair.

There is one of these swings at the playground at Tahunanui Beach in Nelson, but there are none in Marlborough, and it was proposed one could be installed at Pollard Park in Blenheim.

However, council staff said the swings were prone to vandalism and were "exclusive", needing to be fenced off so that others would not be hit by the large, heavy swing mechanism.

There were only 25 of the swings in New Zealand, and Auckland's council had been taking them out because of the vandalism they attracted.


Each swing cost about $50,000, so they were a significant investment.

Instead, staff said there were other swings that children could use lying down similar to a hammock and a basket-type swing that were popular.

They were much cheaper, between $7000 and $12,000, and were seen as "inclusive", as they could be used by able-bodied and disabled children together.

At last week's assets and services committee meeting, councillors asked staff to do more work to see if the hammock and basket swings were difficult for parents to lift older children onto, and what other councils were using.

Parent Kate Webb said providing swings for disabled children to use with their able-bodied siblings and friends would be great. The Liberty swing could be useful, but she thought a basket swing might get more use.

"If one was available, we would definitely look at using it. When Ryan was small and could still fit in ordinary swings, he did enjoy it." Her 10-year-old son Ryan was wheelchair-bound, and couldn't sit up by himself. Webb said while she could still lift him, he would grow too heavy soon.

However, he was also reaching the age where public playgrounds were no longer "cool".

Staff also told councillors at last week's committee meeting that providing toilet and changing space for older children or adults had not been done in Marlborough.

Nik Crous, who looks after public toilets in the district, suggested it should be provided in a new public toilet complex in a central location, either in the proposed "super loo" or in the community hub building which the council was considering for the riverside cultural precinct. That way a key could be provided to those who needed it, rather than risk it being damaged.

Councillor Jenny Andrews said there was a need in the community and the council should address it. More work should be done.

The Marlborough Express