Sensory and inclusive items of play equipment are to be added to the play areas in Fairfield thanks to a £25k grant from the new Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) Community Asset Grant Scheme.

The scheme was launched at the end of last year following CBC’s decision to allocate £182,000 to help local voluntary and community organisations and town and parish councils make their projects a reality. Grants can be up to £25,000 and must be supported by match funding.

The Fairfield Park Residents Association (FPRA) had already been looking into providing this kind of equipment after committee member Lee Abbott (herself a mother of a disabled child) pointed out that our much-admired play areas did not include equipment that was inclusive to all.

Lee was leading and driving the FPRA initiative that showed the overall cost would be in the region of £50k. After grant enquiries were made, Ward Councillor Steve Dixon introduced the FPRA to the new scheme and encouraged them to make an application.

Notification was received at the end of April that the application had been among the first to be accepted. It means that final planning of the £50k project can now proceed with both Fairfield Parish Council and FPRC agreeing to fund up to £12.5k each.

There are many children with varying disabilities in Fairfield who will benefit from the equipment. Some items will allow wheelchair access and others will be sensory. Full details of what is planned will be displayed at an exhibition once the lockdown regulations are relaxed enough to allow it. Unfortunately the regulations will also delay the start of the project.

Lee Abbott said “This is not only great news, it will complete the play areas by making them inclusive and enjoyable by everyone.”

Cllr Dixon said “This was an excellent project and I was only too pleased to support it during the application stage and I am delighted it can now go ahead.”