24th January 2022
As Chair of Wendover Parish Council (WPC), I am giving an update on the background to the removal of the Helicopter Park. The park is owned by the Ministry of Defence not owned or maintained by the Parish Council. As such WPC have no jurisdiction over what happens to the equipment or facilities as it is essentially private property.
The Helicopter Park at the Princess Mary Gate development has been subject to vandalism for some time. Initially an idea to install CCTV was put to RAF Halton by the Council, in a bid to stop the damage. The RAF reported that CCTV could not be installed on MOD land. The Royal Air Force Police stepped up their patrols in an effort to prevent further damage.
Over the last year the park has been fenced off at times, when vandalism has caused the park to be unsafe. In November, the Council received notification from the RAF Halton Wing Commander stating that the repair cost for the past couple of years was already £8,000. They made the decision that any further damage would result in the removal of equipment that would ultimately lead to the closure of the park. The residents on the estate were informed in November.
The Clerk inquired whether the RAF would be willing to gift the park to the Parish Council to maintain. The MOD investigated the request and reported back that whilst the Helicopter Park is owned and managed by MOD, the land on which it sits is owned by Annington Homes. The likelihood of the asset being gifted was deemed unlikely but official notification was requested.
No updates were received in December. In January information came to light with regard to the initial funding of the park. AVDC contributed about £70k to the overall project which included the MUGA, the Helicopter Park and the Pirate Park at Tedder Road (~£450k for whole project) with the main focus of the WPC being the MUGA for teenagers. The contribution came from s106 funding from PMG developers. Annington Homes own the land the Helicopter Park is on and whilst the contract between the MOD and Annington enables DIO to install (or remove) parks for our community (at their expense) it appears Annington Homes would not agree the transfer of such parks to a third party.
On Wednesday 12th January 2022, we received notification from several residents stating that items in the park were being removed. This was confirmed by a site visit. We had not been given any prior notice of the removal date.
Clearly this had not left us any opportunity to investigate further and/or consider any actions. WPC does not own any land close to the Princess Mary Gate development, so we cannot simply replace the park. It is a sad indictment that the behaviour of a few individuals prevents many others from enjoying community facilities.
The WPC office has received several e-mails and phone calls from residents, most of which are terribly upset that this community asset is being removed, but it was beyond the WPC control.
Complaints should be sent to the RAF at the following email address: HAL-StationMedia@mod.gov.uk
Sheila Bulpett Chair, Wendover Parish Council
Statement from RAF Halton Station Commander:
RAF Halton is in discussion with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) following the removal of the equipment at the Haddington Play Park. We recognise the Play Park is well-located for children of both Service and civilian families, but the area has become the centre of unsocial behaviour and vandalism, which had led to considerable repair costs and a risk of injury to children that required swift preventative action. Once all of the issues concerning the site are understood, DIO will host an engagement opportunity at RAF Halton to discuss the matter with the local community and the Parish Council.
Please direct any communication regarding the playpark to: