A NEW games area for Knottingley youngsters has been opened as part of a £50,000 project to combat anti-social behaviour in the town.
MP Yvette Cooper and PC Charlie Banks of Pontefract and Knottingley neighbourhood policing team opened the multi-use games area (MUGA) – which can be used for various sports including basketball, football and cricket – on the Warwick estate on Tuesday.
The mesh exterior of the facility – on Windermere Drive – is encased in a rubber sealing, which acts as a sound insulation system.
PC Banks said: “A major cause of anti-social behaviour calls is because children are playing in the wrong places and causing problems for businesses and residents.
“The key objective was to reduce noise impact to allow more opportunities for children to play in built up areas, where noise levels are often a concern for local residents.
“The MUGA gives them a safe place to play, benefiting the whole community, not just the children that use it – I’ve regularly been asked when it will be ready to use, by children and adults.”
The new equipment is part of the Knottingley Community Partnership Project, launched by PC Banks in 2008.
The project has also funded a ‘pod’ youth shelter in Ferrybridge, which has lighting and technology to allow youngsters to play music.
PC Banks said: “The shelter was installed in Ferrybridge last May and has had a phenomenal impact on the area, contributing to a 60 per cent reduction in anti-social behaviour calls.
“I’ve been a community officer for 26 years, so I know that simple but effective community projects can significantly reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, but I never imagined it would have such an amazing and sustained positive impact on the area.
“I’m delighted with the results of the project so far, I’ve even had other police forces approaching me to ask for advice on how we’ve managed it.”
The project was funded by a partnership of businesses, including Sutcliffe Play and Ardagh Group, with Wakefield and District Housing, West Yorkshire Police and Wakefield Council.
The next phase of the project will see a skate park – voted for by Knottingley youngsters – installed on the Warwick estate.
PC Banks added: “The whole project has been about giving children what they want, so I am determined to support their requests all the way. It means more money so it may take us a little longer, but we will get there.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved in the project so far for their donations and support.”