Locks Ride playground saved by court ruling: What do you think?

Published: 25 May 2012 11:304 comments

A JUDGE has rejected a complaint by neighbours that a popular playground was too noisy.

District judge Andrew Vickers ruled at Reading Magistrates' Court this morning (Friday) against a private prosecution by a group of 13 households near the playground in Locks Ride Recreation Ground. The court heard the prosecution case had cost £30,000. Judge Vickers later ruled that the prosecution should also pay the parish council's costs of £18,008.10.

Some neighbours launched the prosecution, made under the name of Dr Catherine Bentley-Thomas, against Winkfield Parish Council, saying children playing and screaming was a noise nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act.

The park was installed last year by the parish at the cost of £150,000.

Supporters of the park collected thousands of signatures in favour of the playground and presented the petition to Winkfield Parish Council.

Giving his judgment today (Friday) after a two-day hearing earlier this month, Judge Vickers rejected evidence by an expert prosecution witness, saying the sound recordings he had made in a garden were not long enough to give a reliable picture.

In court today, he re-capped evidence from one resident's diary that the park "is really full of fat women from Bracknell who have no imagination or intelligence to do anything with their even more unimaginative and unintelligent children. I wish they would **** off".

Judge Vickers said: "There was a concern as to where these people were coming from and the parish council took a survey and found that 90% of users were coming from Bracknell."

He also said some residents had complained about parking, the smell of barbecues and potential devaluation of house prices, but these were not relevant to the noise complaint.

In addition, he suggested Dr Bentley-Thomas had become "over-sensitised" to noise from the park.

The court had heard from a number of nearby residents that the noise from 200-400 visitors a day at some points was disrupting their lives and work.

But Judge Vickers said of the park - which had already been used for football, cricket and softball before the playground was added a year ago: "It was never a village green. It's not quintessentially Betjeman England. It's land that has had a sporting use for a considerable period."

Concluding, he reject the prosecution case as being "pre-emptive and presumptive".

The judge said the plaintiffs would be able to seek to appeal the judgment if they chose.

See next week's News for more reaction.

• What do you think? Is this a victory for commonsense or do you have some sympathy for those living near the new park?

Please enter your comments below or email letters@bracknellnews.co.uk

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  • Anonymous2
    1 post
    May 25, 22:05
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    I have a lot of sympathy for those living near the park. I have occasionally used the park with my children and it is a lovely park, and when I have been there I have not noticed it being used by bad mums but we all make judgemental comments about people and anyone who says they don't is a liar.

    People do not realise the impact noise nuisance can have unless they have been through it - which I have under very different circumstances but it drove me to depression.

    Parks are important, but not so much that you can sacrifice people's quality of life. Screaming kids is not a pleasant sound when it is continuous and people have a right to enjoy their property and garden, which these people probably cannot do anymore even when it is quiet, as eventually the anticipation of noise is as bad as the noise itself. You cannot help becoming over-sensitized to it.

    I think they should have put the park further away from these people's houses. I will not enjoy the park now knowing what this is doing to people.

    Sorry you lost your case, but you had every right to protest and the fact that it was a sports park before is not the same as a park, so I personally think the judge was wrong. I hope you get your quality of life back. Don't let it ruin your lives, we only have one life and remember people will never 'get it' unless they have been there.

    Recommend?   Yes 26     No 35

  • GrahamDYoung
    2 posts
    May 27, 22:46
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    Sadly this case should have never been brought. Classic case of nil communication. No winners here and still the 'cause' remains open. Third party needed to mediate.

    Recommend?   Yes 6     No 4

  • danni86
    1 post
    May 28, 20:57
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    So would they have just rather these 'fat' mums took their 'fat' kids and sat in at home. If they are as bad as that then surely a run around the park is just what the doctor ordered. At least they are taking their children out and for a lot of mums it is nice and social for them as well as their children. I'm glad the park has stayed open and think it would be crazy if this decision was appealed against.

    Recommend?   Yes 13     No 5

  • michelleejb
    1 post
    May 29, 00:03
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    I sympathise to the residents who lost their case , however, I am glad they did because Locks Ride is a fab park.

    Us Bracknell Mum,s whatever size we are? love to take our excited little darling's there.

    I just would like to say that there is no need for rudeness, and it is a free country. I am afraid we can take our children anywhere we like to play. Just like you can come to Bracknell any time you want. We don't mind :-)

    Recommend?   Yes 12     No 5