Double demo to be held demanding renovation of Viking Ship play area and investment in Dane Park equipment

Double protest to be held this weekend Photo FOCC

A double protest will be held this weekend demanding renovation of the Viking Ship playground in Cliftonville rather than demolition and replacement with new equipment and voicing the need for investment at Dane Park playground.

The Friends of Cliftonville Coastline group has arranged the demo in a bid to persuade Thanet council to rethink proposals for the way a £211,280 allocation from Kent County Council for Community Parks is spent.

Currently funding of £169,517 will be used for demolition of the existing Viking Ship site and then installation of replacement play equipment.

Funding of £4,000 has been allocated for painting of play equipment and fencing at Crispe Park in Birchington. Another £14,700 will be used for safety surfacing at Northdown Park and there is a provisional allocation of £16,000 for boundary fencing at Memorial Recreation Ground, Broadstairs.

Photo FOCC

The Viking Ship play area was shut off to the public on Wednesday (February 9) with Thanet council saying this was due to the ship, some of the other play equipment and the play area’s surfacing  not being compliant with current health and safety standards.

A report to councillors in December said that of the 2020/21 playground revenue budget of £39,000 a year -split between the isle’s 31 playgrounds – some £12,647 was spent on essential maintenance and £1,900 on inspections for the Viking Ship play park. This prompted the decision to replace the equipment.

But, campaigners say RoSPA reports that all defects at the site could be repaired.

The original Viking Ship equipment from The Children’s Playground Company was installed in 2009 with the major structural components being of sturdy Robinia wood. It was funded with £300,000 from the Stronger, Safer Communities Fund according to council agenda minutes from the year of installation. Playground company CEO Rinske Wassenaar said only minor repairs would be required, such as replacing missing parts, addressing possible splits, sanding off sap wood and repainting, for a cost ranging between £8,000-£12,000.

Thanet council says: “Our internal playground inspections report that we are unable to economically maintain the existing equipment to an acceptable standard. The council has a duty to ensure the health and safety of playground users which is why we have taken the decision to close the Viking ship playground, with immediate effect.”

Campaigners want more parks to receive funding Photo FOCC

Campaigners say if repairs are made then more of the playground grant could be used on other areas, including Dane Park and play areas at Tivoli and Laleham.

To highlight their concerns a demo will be held on Sunday (February 13) from 10am at the Viking Ship playground and  11am at Dane Park playground.

Photo FOCC

The group say: “We will come together and protest so that all of our children benefit from clean, well kept, inspiring playgrounds, across Thanet. We want more than empty promises and we want better use of funding, for maintenance and renovation, Enough is Enough! If we collectively make a noise, TDC will have to listen.

“It would cost approx £12K to renovate the Viking Ship playground to good as new, and an average of £2K per annum to maintain it to a high standard including replacing parts such as rope, nets, infill of sand and replacement of worn grass matting.

“Clearly this has not been done since it was built in 2009. There is no need to throw an obscene amount of money at one playground.

“The £169,517 allocated to the Viking Ship Playground could and should be used to improve both Dane Park playground and the Viking Ship playground. To use it on an unneeded demolition and rebuild is an appalling waste of funds.

Photo FOCC

“With half term around the corner, families are directed to walk to the already over-crowded and dangerous Dane Park playground instead. Dane Park playground is already over-crowded and dangerous, with many play structures disintegrating and unsafe.
“Thanet council expects all of Cliftonville’s children to use the overcrowded Dane Park playground for the next four months. Why has funding not been allocated to the improvement of Dane Park, and other playgrounds too?

“What our playgrounds really need is ongoing upkeep and maintenance that ensures they are always clean and safe. This is what they all lack, across Thanet. If you have a playground you care about anywhere in Thanet please do join us.

“We will be making a short film that features the opinions of our children, because no one has consulted or heard from them. Please help us by filming some footage of your children saying why they love their playground and what worries or makes them sad, then please do tag it #saveourvikingship and post it on social media and send a copy of it via direct message to our Facebook page so we can collate the footage.”

Cllr George Kup, Cabinet Member for Community Safety & Youth Engagement at Thanet District Council said: “Playgrounds have a hugely positive impact on children’s physical and mental health and I am delighted that we have been granted Community Parks funding from Kent County Council to provide a high-quality play area, with more inclusive and accessible equipment.

Viking Ship play area plan

“Without this funding, the play area would remain closed as the council does not currently have the budget to replace it. This would be devastating for the local community. We expect the playground, complete with new equipment and safer surfacing, to re-open at the end of May.”

Find the Viking Ship petition here

Find the Friends of Cliftonville Coastline event page here


  1. Whilst the ship does need and should have had some TLC it’s a crime that it will be destroyed.
    I was there with my little one a few weeks back and it’s still the best play park locally for how brilliant the actual park is.
    Shame on those that decided first to neglect it and then second to destroy it.

  2. Too late to alter this decision now I fear. The new equipment will have already been ordered, made and paid for, besides, who on TDC will want to climb down (pun not intended) and admit that they were in the wrong over this idiotic waste of money?

  3. I’ve now spoken with Cllr Kup by e-mail, who stated that, “I can confirm that “minor repairs” will not solve the issues relating to the overall condition of the play apparatus or the risk that this presents.”

    However, what is completely unsatisfying about this response is that he neglects to mention why it is that the original manufacturer believes all necessary repairs can be undertaken for between £8,000 – £12,000? Somebody, be it Cllrs, TDC staff, ROSPA or the original manufacturer is wrong, as clearly they cannot all be right. So, who is it?

    Again, I have made the point to Cllr Kup that, surely it is possible to contract the original manufacturer to carry out the repairs as highlighted by the ROSPA report. 50% payment at the beginning of works and the remaining 50% upon satisfactory completion and further inspection from ROSPA. If the manufacturer is confident, they will accept the contract, complete the work successfully and TDC will have saved a fortune, which can then be spread across the other play areas in dire need of refurbishment and repair.

    Needless to say, I am doubtful that my suggestions will be considered and, sadly, I doubt any amount of protest will make a blind bit of difference. As ‘Ton’ has said above, the equipment will no doubt have been ordered, manufactured and TDC will have signed a legally binding contract. Just such a shame they didn’t think more carefully about these things before wasting taxpayers money so brazenly.

    • Most of us know who is lying. We have seen the ROSPA report which the local councillors refused to post on their Facebook page. How little the minor repairs through lack of maintenance will actually cost (£8-12,000) against the total destruction and rebuild at (£169.000). He should resign as Cabinet member for Youth Engagement and Community Safety as he is a disgrace to our children.

    • I am confused you say the manufacturer has quoted for repairs. I thought The Childrens Playground Company had given a price. (The installers). I have never seen that name on the ship. I have always been under the impression the ship was made by Stik-Holz. From Germany?

  4. Their total lack of consultation with those who use the playgrounds shows up the Cabinet member Cllr Kup’s ignorance and contempt towards children who love the iconic Viking Ship playground. He is in the wrong role as Cabinet Member for ‘Community Safety and Youth Engagement’. The Labour local Cllrs for Cliftonville West are just going along with their Tory counterparts and ignoring their constituents which is disgusting. They will not talk to anyone who does not agree with them. Democracy is dead in Thanet.

    It was not necessary to waste all that money on one playground no matter what rubbish Cllr Kup tries to infer, this funding should have been used on repairing all and any of the playgrounds that like the Viking Ship have been left with little maintenance over many years. This funding was designed for that but a few selfish individuals in council have got together and swiped the majority of it to be wasted on demolishing and building a new one. So what happens to all the other playgrounds in need of maintenance now as Cllr Kup has very little money left for those? Kids must suffer as usual.
    It is total madness at TDC as usual.

  5. I really can not see why people are so keen to keep the Viking ship. Being a parent I have visited, this playground a number of times. But not for about 18 months. When ever I went inside of around the boat. I found Human waste, and condoms. Glass bottles etc. On one occasion I found a needle. Admittingly This these visits were before 8 in the morning. Before TDC would have time to clear up after the parties the local residents like to have there, on summer evenings. At least if the ship, and wood chip is removed. there will be less places to hide. If TDC do keep the ship perhaps they could fit a toilet roll holder, as you will not stop it being used as a toilet. Has anybody that is so keen to keep it actually seen how high the top of mast is. It would only take one child to fall from top of the crows nest, and land on the edge on the timber surround or even worse a small child. After a big insurance claim. I bet these same people would be saying why did the Council not do something before hand. I am aware that you are not suppose to be on the very top, but no one has told the local children, and a claim is a claim. I for one will be glad to see it go. The new playground looks a lot safer. with a lot less places to hide. Why not have another protest at The Viking Ship about 9pm or 10pm. You would see a very different playground.

  6. Yes Yes to a new playground! the Viking Ship and the other wooden equipment was in very poor condition and I can’t believe that parents with young children would think otherwise!!

  7. Shame on these protestors ! The residents of Cliftonville are stick to death of FOCC ! They are not friends and are creating a massive divide in the community. The constant protesting negativity but actually they are doing very little to make the situation better. How many improvement project have they achieved the nonstop protests. I CALL ON THE RESIDENTS OF CLIFTONVILLE TO PROTEST AGAIN FOCC AS THEY ARE CREATING A DIVIDE AND BRINGING NOTHING BUT HATE TO OUR COMMUNITY!

    • I agree Janice. We are fed up with FOCC. The narrative is negative. I speak to lots of local people in the pub and clubs around town and everyone is fed up with this group FOCC they have their own interests and not the general public opinion. I think we should protest against them. I would like to know who is on this FOCC committee and is making these decisions to protest. The current playground is broken there is glass there all the time and they want to save it! This FOCC need to rethink this protest cause public opinion is not in their favour.

    • I don’t think it’s productive to protest a protest! The issue here is that TDC have just gone ahead and ordered a new playground without any public engagement… there are no plans in the public domain. There is no info about whether the mature trees and shrubs will be kept. Even if you want a new playground surely you want some say in what is being put in, no? I personally really don’t want everything bulldozed for plastic flooring that breaks down, contaminates the soil and ends up in the sea! I agree with you about the broken glass but unless TDC properly clean and maintain whatever ends up there, this issue will remain.

  8. TDC have quite rightly acted on the safety inspectors advice that the Viking Ship playground be shut down. However, the unexpected and welcome KCC Community Parks funding has come at a crucial time to give Cliftonville West a new high quality nine apparatus playground that might not be to some residents taste but I hope the children will love it. The funding was time limited and TDC Officers have had to act quickly to get everything in place and this has meant that prior community engagement was not possible which is a pity.
    The TDC arboricultural officer has been looking at ways to retain as much of the current mature trees/hedges on the site as possible, however the new play area must meet all health & safety standards which will include a ground surface material that is safe for the children. New tree/shrub planting will hopefully be possible.
    Maintenance costs and inspections for the Viking Ship had become unsustainable and once the new playground is installed this will mean more funds that can go towards other play areas in Thanet.
    As someone who has lived in Cliftonville West for over 25 years and an elected ward councillor for the past three years I will always strive to do the best I can for our area and I truly believe that in years to come this new playground will be seen as a massive benefit to young families who live here.

  9. I want to know who is on this FOCC committee they should answer to the real community cause they don’t speak for us??? I call for a protest asking them to be disbanded. The council and the charity commission should be called to investigate them. Who is on the committee they must have collectively called for this protest by vote?? I hope you did FOCC?They need to be held to account where was your consultation for the people that have lived here ??? Protest after protest do they even live in the area? Question’s now need to be asked about FOCC and the committee members. There is anger and it’s aimed at them. We as a Cliftonville community has had enough. I call for a protest against FOCC. Who will join me?

  10. Friends of Cliftonville Coastline is not a resident or community association. It is a facebook group set up by one individual who moved to Cliftonville from London a few years ago and who runs an airbnb, she has arranged various demonstrations in the area has has a deep dislike for TDC and particular Councillors.

  11. anyone that attends this protest tomorrow is shameful the loss of this playground will impact the real people that live here. We potentially will not have any playground at this location with the antics of this FOCC.

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