Families at double demo urge Thanet council to rethink Viking Ship play park replacement plans

Love our parks demo Photo Frank Leppard

Around 100 people turned out for a double demo at the Viking Ship play area and Dane Park in Margate today (February 13).

Protestors at the Love Our Playgrounds demo were urging Thanet District Council to save the bespoke Viking Ship and other equipment at the playground in Ethelbert Crescent.

Play pieces, including the ship, are due to be demolished and replaced with nine new pieces using community parks funding of £169,517.

But campaigners from Friends of Cliftonville Coastline are urging Thanet council to reconsider saying the original installer of the Viking Ship has quoted £27,000 to refurbish the entire playground based on a Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents report – meaning funding could be diverted to other play areas such as Dane, Tivoli and Laleham parks.

A spokesperson for the group said: “Why has this option not been considered as best value for our money? Vast sums of grant funding are periodically used to replace play equipment, but this is not only ecologically unsustainable, it does not solve the endemic lack of upkeep and maintenance that blight our playgrounds, meaning that children must put up with inferior play areas year in year out.”

Photo FOCC

Campaigners say a refurbishment instead of replacement works would mean there were funds to tackle the ‘overcrowded’ Dane Park play site which is “currently missing two much needed slides.”

The funds for the Viking Ship play area replacement work come from a £211,280 allocation from Kent County Council for Community Parks

The Viking Ship play site was shut to the public on 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. Thanet council says the equipment and the ship continue to deteriorate and the timber is decaying from the inside out.

People are now being directed to use Dane Park while work is undertaken at the Viking Ship playground.

New equipment for the Viking Ship site has been ordered and is being manufactured by supplier Kompan. Work is expected to start at the end of March and finish in late May. There are nine new play pieces featuring inclusive apparatus such as a wheelchair carousel.

Ward councillor Alan Currie said: “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..
“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.”

Funding of £4,000 has also 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.

Find Friends of Cliftonville Coastline on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/930934770896103

Petition here

Huge overhaul of Viking Ship play area in Cliftonville approved as part of £211k parks funding for Thanet


  1. The reality the protest had very few people far less than reported in the above article. Also plandemic and various anti vaccine groups attended that had no reason to attend a playground protest. I think this sums the direction of FOCC spreading incorrect misinformation. Reporting this type of rubbish is clearly showing the direction of the IOTN a click bait blog giving a platform to a Facebook group. Shameful.

  2. Cllrs and officers getting it all wrong again. How inept can TDC be?
    It is not sustainable to build an adventure playground then 9 years later rip it all out and start again at that huge expense when repairs can give another 10 years guaranteed use out of what is already there for £27,000 in comparison. Is their idea to save on maintenance costs ? as if it is then that is a false economy. Unless the new equipment receives maintenance funding it will also be ripped out to start again in another 9 years or so time?
    The older kids love clambering around in the Viking Ship adventure playground which is very easy to maintain as everything is made from natural products. It is so much better for the environment than the plastic and rubber replacements ordered. It looks like TDC don’t know what they are doing. The blind lead the blind so to speak.

  3. If TDC don’t invest in things Friends Of Cliftonville Coastline moan. When they do, they still moan. FOCC is an odious, self serving, community splitting group that needs to be protested against. I take it every one of those children in the pictures will not be playing on the new playground? What has FOCC actually contributed to the area??? The group needs dismantling just like the Pirate Ship.

  4. Where has the figure of £27000 come from? I am sure it was £8-£12000 last week. For repairs by the original installers. Also it states the playground is only 9 years old, when it was installed in 2009. A bit more than 9 years ago.

      • Thank You Paul, my mistake, yes 12 years ago.
        The reason the repair bill jumped from £8-12,000 to just under £27,000 is because TDC released the previous ROSPA report instead of the current one from last Autumn with a new costing raising the price. All through lack of the necessary legal maintenance by TDC. Any replacement with a new park, the life expectancy will also depend on any maintenance taking place.
        The statement by Cllr Currie above saying the safety inspectors (ROSPA) advised it should be shut down is untrue. They did not state that. They only stated what needed doing as repairs. And nowhere does the report state the the wood is rotting from the inside out. So you see that TDC and the local Cllrs are twisting events to get the backing behind them.

  5. This is all a bit pointless as I’ve been told the new playground equipment has already been ordered and presumably contracts have been signed and legally binding.
    Personally I love the thought of a brand new playground to replace the old wooden ship that was an accident waiting to happen! Why doesn’t FOCC organise a DFL crowd funder to replace the slide in Dane Park?

    • In fact, a local celebrity offered to pay for the repairs at the adventure playground to get it open again and saving the funding for the other playgrounds such as at Dane Park, Millmead and Birchington but TDC refused to accept the offer. If they won’t accept free offers than they won’t accept FOCC offer to pay for Dane Park repairs either.

  6. It shows a lack of transparency from TDC Councillors and Officers if this is a done deal. They work for us and not the other way around! It’s disgraceful that a consultation was not undertaken to ask us what we want rather than making decisions on our behalf.

    • We elect the council to do exactly that: to make decisions on our behalf.
      It would be impossible to run the council if every decision that was made had to go to a consultation or referendum first.

      • Andrew, have you actually got children that use the park?

        Councillors should be listening to the wishes of their electorate and then using the Officers to deliver this. The National Association of Local Council’s website states that Local Councils’ activities “fall into three main categories: representing the local community; delivering services to meet local needs; striving to improve quality of life and community well-being”. How can local needs be met without consulting with the electorate? Is the view of TDC and yourself that we are too thick to know what is best for our children? It stinks of utter arrogance or are there brown paper envelopes involved?

        • I wonder if the local parents had a ballot to ask if they would like to keep a 12 year old timber ship, with human and fox waste, and condoms and broken glass in the wood chippings and sand? Or a new playground. With a modern soft surface. I wonder what they would choose?

          • Obviously the local foxes are going to be like, “Hold up chaps, we can’t defecate here as there’s new play equipment, quick let’s get to Dane Park!”

          • You clearly do not go to or have kids who use these Playgrounds as you would see it is not just the Viking ship playground having issues. They all have these issues with drinkers and yobbos smashing equipment up and leaving broken glass and other litter. The rate at which it is cleared up is down to lack of a regular kept cleaning rota, not a particular playground issue. The Dane Park playground equipment and surface is similar to what TDC are purchasing for the Pirate Ship playground, plastic and rubber. It is still being damaged and will still need funding for repairs, just like what will be needed for the new one when it is built up Cliftonville. Having all the funding spent on one playground will not mean future savings whatsoever. It is a wasteful action when funding is supposedly tight.

        • Councillors publish a manifesto, spelling out their Hope’s, aspirations and intentions, should they get elected.
          Councillors have regular surgeries, where residents can bring their concerns.
          Councillors have email and messaging, yet another channel of communication.
          When we chose to vote for a particular candidate, we delegate authority to that candidate to carry out the running of the council on our behalf.
          But you still can’t consult the electorate on every issue that arises.

        • Yes John 100% true.
          The council cabinet member for ‘Youth Engagement’ Cllr George Kup went ahead and dismissed a requested consultation with local ‘youth’ and their parents as if knowing best as he told everyone what he decided would happen. The same with the local Cllrs. Democratic or what?

  7. The pirate ship should stay and be repaired and a investigation launched as to why it wasn’t kept in good condition.

    Ridiculous decisions left right and centre. The ship is genuinely a lovely area.

  8. I am surprised there was not a campaign before to get rid of the Viking ship before now by the Woke brigade. For celebrating Vikings. As they were not very PC. Going round Europe pillaging etc. and invading countries. Their involvement in the slave trade, can not be forgotten. Or does this not fit into their romantic image of Vikings.

  9. Anti vaxxers & other conspirists should stay away from schools & playgrounds. I hope the viking ship gets restored.

  10. Interesting discussion this. At first I assumed that the Viking playground should be repaired on the grounds that it’s likely to be more intriguing for kids than the standard equipment and I still think it probably is. However one of the things that’s made me question its ongoing viability is mention of the wood chippings and sand base. It’s easier to clear away ‘detritus’ from grassy areas and good ol’ mud than from that combination.

    But then there’s money – our money. Are we getting value for it? Have TDC carefully considered this project for some time or are they just in a hurry to spend KCC Community Parks Funding before the end of the financial year? They make it sound as if it was an unexpected windfall and they’ve had to act quickly – hardly the way to make good decisions.

  11. A brand new playground is on offer to a run down area but the DFL brigade are doing their very best to cancel it at the expense of struggling local families who actually live nearby and have young children who would benefit from a play area that is safe and inclusive. Put your agenda and egos to one side and start demonstrating instead about things that actually matter to real people!!

    • You just don’t get it do you. These matters are important and matter to ‘Real People’ and their children. Do you suggest funding is wasted on a new playground every 12 years then just because it will be new? That is a throw away society and not environmentally sound.

    • Look what TDC did to the CRA the incumbent group of 25 years on the Oval Lawns, who ran band concerts and events for the community.
      This said group CRA found the funding for the 15 year old bandstand that is there, owned by TDC who did nothing in that 15 years to maintain it.
      The incumbent group CRA set up the farmers market 20 years ago for the community.
      TDC hand this 4 acre site
      FREEHOLD to GRASS costing them nothing but their solicitors fees.
      This group GRASS from what I see made it intolerable for the incumbent farmers market to continue on the Oval Lawns and the market had to find a new site.
      GRASS are rewarded with half a million from the Margate Town Deal Board over a 2 year period.
      For what?
      All their events will be outdoors as they were with the CRA who funded their own.
      The Winter Gardens could do with that funding.
      It is unbelieveable and I will never patronise anything that GRASS group ever put on.
      And as for TDC, words fail me!

      • Reply to Jack Green
        I agree with everything you have said about Grass.
        Not only was the site handed over freehold at no cost, their solicitors fees were crowd funded and from what I have read,the CRA gave them a generous donation, which I am sure they now regret.
        I also will never go to anything they organise.
        What a ‘cock up’ by TDC and in my opinion the Grass group are despicable.

          • Mr Holmes, why dont you contact the people who handed the site over to them, not leasehold but freehold, TDC and the
            £500,000 over two years is from Margate Town Deal Board. One of this groups Director CIC’s as they now call themselves, is a serving member on the Margate Town Deal Board.
            You can see all this on their social media sites.

          • Jack Green, not only the £ half million for the GRASS group who’s director is on the Margate Town deal Board, but over £4 million for Dreamland who’s director was on the same Board. Doesn’t this sound very corrupted indeed. This funding was supposed to be for Margate and Cliftonville to make a difference for the people here by making improvements but instead much of it is syphoned off into business. Will that help at all? probably not !

  12. So were the health and safety concerns largely to do with the surface around the viking ship rather than the ship and other fixtures? From previous reports it was only talked of the relatively minor cost of repairing the woodwork no mention made about the surface.
    Would,it be right to summise that to get the concerns addressed there were two issues ,relatvely inexpensive repairs to the timber and a much more expensive surface replacement, both of which would have come out of council funds in the absence of the grant. Must have been known for years that a bark chipping surface was no longer the best option, possibly even as far back as the viking ships original installation.
    As for the local residents views, the vast majority of them have no interest they’ll do whatever they will with whatever is there. The agitators ( seemingly largely more recent arrivals) seem hell bent on turning cliftonville into their little fiefdom that has to cater for their every whim.
    The GRASS / Oval shenanigans is a despicable piece of TDC chicanery that rips a hole in heart of municipal property , meaning that there is no future chance of joined up planning without the blessing of the new owners. Just doesn’t seem right.

    • “As for the local residents views, the vast majority of them have no interest they’ll do whatever they will with whatever is there.” What gives you the right to speak on their behalf? Have you asked them? Are you a Councillor as it is that sort of attitude towards local residents that is so infuriating. You are basically saying the brain dead locals will like it or lump it as they are not intelligent enough to have a view either way! How condescending and pompous!

      • Not at all, i’m saying that the vast majority of locals don’t give a monkeys what happens on the site, they’ll use whatever is there the way they want. I’m not speaking on their behalf I am giving an opinion based on the general behaviour and attitudes i’ve seen over the 20 plus years i’ve been involved in the area.
        I’ve made no mention or insinuation as to the mental capacity of those living in the area unlike yourself.
        There will be a play area , it will or will not be an improvement depending on a persons viewpoint, and to repeat myself the vast majority won’t care which scheme is there going forward. To them a playground is a playground.

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