Schoolboy in fight to save Sheffield playground

Akeel Khan outside the locked gates to Pitsmoor Adventure Playground.
Akeel Khan outside the locked gates to Pitsmoor Adventure Playground.
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It’s all work and no play for a young Sheffield boy leading a crusade for children in his community.

Determined schoolboy Akeel Khan is challenging the city council over threats to close Pitsmoor Adventure Playground as part of budget cuts.

Akeel Khan outside the locked gates to Pitsmoor Adventure Playground.

Akeel Khan outside the locked gates to Pitsmoor Adventure Playground.

The 12-year-old is rallying support from classmates and teachers at Fir Vale School to put pressure on Sheffield Council to keep the facility open.

Akeel says Pitsmoor children have lost out on hours of fun since the opening hours were cut from 25 to nine per week.

And on several occasions he has gone to enjoy the play area, only to find it has been completely closed for ‘health and safety’ reasons.

Year 8 pupil Akeel, who lives in Pitsmoor with mum Shameen, said: “The playground has been the heart of enjoyment there for many, many years and to be threatened by closure because of the council cuts is unfair.

“The reason I think it’s unfair is because the council have wasted their money on useless things and, because they didn’t keep control of the budget they had, they have decide to close things down that won’t affect them or their jobs.

“This area is not the best area but it has its moments so imagine the impact if the playground closed.

“It is closed again now because of health and safety, so children can’t play there in half-term.”

Akeel has decided to organise a fun day and other demonstrations to support the work of Pitsmoor Adventure Playground users’ group, campaigning to keep the play area open and run by the council.

The young community stalwart also asked Coun Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture and sport, for a meeting.

Akeel said: “She just said their budget gets lower every year. Why didn’t they spend money on it when the budget was higher?”

Paul Billington, director of culture and environment at Sheffield Council, said: “Safety of the children which use the playground is paramount and we have closed it to allow us to work with the users’ group on options for the maintenance work.

“No decision has been made to permanently close the playground although due to the budget cuts the council faces across the board from central government, limited opening times have been put in place.

“We will also be working with the group to look at future investment and operating opportunities.”