FEARS have been raised that it is ‘only a matter of time’ before a child is hurt on a play area community leaders say is in need of updating.

The popular children’s play area on land in the grounds of Hurworth Community Association, near Darlington, is owned by Darlington Borough Council.

Val Hughes, a member of Hurworth Parish Council, said work needs to be carried out to make the area’s uneven and split-level surfaces safer.

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Borough council bosses have assured parents that the play area is safe.

Coun Hughes said: “[The parish council] gave the land to the local authority and it is insured by the local authority, which is telling us there is no money to spend.

“I believe the borough council when it says there is no money for the play area, I know how serious things are.

“We are hoping to get something done, I hope it can be made safer without raising anyone’s hackles.

“Children are running round [on the uneven part of the play area], there are grandparents running around after them.

“It is only a matter of time before an accident happens.”

Parish council clerk Peter Allan has written to those residents who have raised concerns about the play area, suggesting that some volunteer action may provide an interim solution.

Coun Hughes added: “That could certainly help the situation, we could raise the level of problem areas and put soil in to pack it down.

“It is all spring time work, so we have time to get it organised.”

Another problem is overhanging trees by the swings, which are causing moisture to be retained in the rubberised surface, making it slippy.

Coun Hughes added: “What we are looking for is the reassurance that the council will continue to insure the playground, that it remains the responsibility of the borough council.

“Hurworth Parish Council cannot afford to carry out the work – we do not have enough money to resurface it.”

A borough council spokesman said: “The play equipment at the site is safe to use. Our officers met with parish councillors late last year and inspected the site together.

“Areas of work were indentified including the pruning and removal of nearby trees and topping up the play bark in the area underneath the swings.

“The pruning and tree removal has since been carried out and the play bark will be topped up by the end of the month.”