Save Venny playground campaign
Save Venny playground campaign

Sue Atkins, Southampton East Socialist Party

There were around 35 of us, mainly women, chanting “Save our Venny” and “No to council cuts”. In the adventure playground in the inner city Southampton area of Newtown, one child had made her own placard with the message to the council – “Don’t be mean, save our green”.

We were there because the Labour council is running a ‘consultation’ to close the Venny, and the footpath leading to it, thereby losing the only public green space and playground in the area. 

The reason the council says is due to “anti-social behaviour”.  If this is a factor, closure will only push the problem elsewhere.

The council should think of other ways to combat any problems in the area, such as rebuilding youth services, building council homes to house the homeless, expanding services for alcohol and drug misuse. The lack of all this leads inevitably to problems being played out on the streets.

The Venny is a very pleasant green area, with trees and play equipment, which local parents and children make good use of at weekends and school holidays, and evenings in the warmer weather. If closed it will be a great loss to the community.

Next to the Venny there used to be a community building, with a kitchen and meeting room, which housed various activities and clubs.  This was replaced with an attractive purpose built facility that the community was delighted with.

However, this lasted for less than a year. Eventually, it was handed over to ‘Dingley’s Promise’, a charity specialising in pre-school education for children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send), for up to 60 children.

It is great that there is a pre-school for Send children. But it’s shocking that this is run by a charity when it should be part of the state education system.

Also that this should be an extra facility, instead of robbing the local community of its own much-needed and valued building. In itself, our old community building would contribute to reducing anti-social behaviour by playing a positive part in social pride and cohesion.

This is why local people need the Venny to stay in the heart of the community, and not be another casualty of council cuts. And it will be part of Socialist Party member Nadia Ditta’s campaign to be a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) councillor representing this ward in May.

See ‘Southampton Bevois – ready to support one of their own as TUSC candidate’