Kids heartbroken as Oakfield Rec shuts for good

Council workers dismantle the play equipment at Oakfield rec.
Council workers dismantle the play equipment at Oakfield rec.

The moment Save Oakfield campaigners had feared became a sad reality on Tuesday morning.

Rugby Borough Council workers moved in to dismantle the play equipment after the Heart of England Co-op, which owns the site, gave the council a deadline of Wednesday, June 22 to clear the area.

Five-year-old Tommy Young wept as the play equipment was removed.

Five-year-old Tommy Young wept as the play equipment was removed.

And despite one last protest at Oakfield Rec on Saturday - which saw more than 150 people join hands to form a human chain - there was no last minute U-turn from the Co-op.

A council spokesperson said: “The council recognises that Oakfield Rec is a community resource that should be available for residents to use and enjoy.

“Rugby Borough Council has repeatedly offered to buy the freehold of Oakfield Rec or enter into a new long-term lease, but the Heart of England Co-operative does not wish to explore either of these options.

“We deeply regret that our contractors must now remove the council’s equipment.”

The human chain protest at Oakfield Rec on Saturday. Photo by Peter Crawford.

The human chain protest at Oakfield Rec on Saturday. Photo by Peter Crawford.

Work to clear the site began at 8am on Tuesday morning and was completed during the afternoon.

Kelly Young, who lives close to Oakfield Rec, described how her son Tommy wept as he saw the play equipment being removed in the morning.

She said: “I was taking my youngest to school and didn’t know what the workers were doing at first.

“Once we realised, Tommy started sobbing. He was in tears begging me to get them to stop.

The site is now fenced off to the public.

The site is now fenced off to the public.

“But what do you say to a five year old?

“The Co-op are meant to be all about the community but they’ve ripped the heart out of ours.”

Her husband, Alan Young, added: “The most disappointing thing for me - we knew the Co-op were going through the appeal process and we understand that - but the park could have stayed open while that was happening.

“It’s not the kids who have refused their planning permission. Why take it out on them?”

Speaking on Tuesday, Save Oakfield campaigner Richard Joy said: “Many of the children going to school were visibly upset at the sight of the park being removed this morning.

“I was talking to my sobbing daughter about it this evening.

“She’s confused and doesn’t understand why she had an area to play on yesterday, but can’t play outside today.

“I tried to explain to her that the Co-op want to build houses on it because that will make them a lot of money, but she asked ‘Don’t they like children?’.

“I replied saying ‘I am sure they don’t dislike children’ to which she replied ‘But they like money more?’.

“It’s sometimes hard to argue with the logic of a child.”