PARENTS have swung into action to improve play facilities for their children.

They have collected a petition with 400 signatures calling for the Southill playground in Weymouth to be given a new lease of life.

Mums Sarah Polkinghorne, 32, and Helen Lainesbury, 29, both of Southill, are spearheading the campaign.

Mum-of-two Helen said: “We’re getting the community together and have set up a petition.

“We’re not going storming off to the council and demanding things.

“We’re prepared to get help – either with match-funding or grants for improvements.”

Helen said children are being asked to draw plans and ideas of how they would like their park to look.

She added: “It’s a lovely, decent-sized park but we feel that there’s nothing creative here.

“There’s nothing for the children to climb through and nothing that’s going to help their physical development.

“We don’t want a complete skate park but we’d just like a ramp or something to prevent the kids from skateboarding down the slope into the car park, which is dangerous.”

Campaigners have also been putting up posters around the community encouraging residents to get involved.

Sarah said: “The play park isn’t being used as much as it should.

“It’s meant to be for children who are up to 14 years old but it’s lacking in many ways for the older children.

“We really want to push for a disability park for children in wheelchairs or children who have a learning disability.

“We want something for the future and to be able to continue using our park instead of going further afield.”

Weymouth teenager Ryan Hope, 19, plans to work with the Southill community by using his experience from the Westham Youth Forum’s fundraising for a community garden.

He said: “I think it’s brilliant what they are doing. Trying to get facilities for disabled children is great because it’s something that’s not there.

“It’s good to have the backing of the community and show the council that this is what they want.

“My advice to them is to get a meeting organised and to start planning fundraising events.”

A Facebook page, Improve Southill Play Area, has been set up and the petition is available to sign online at

Councillors encourage support

Weymouth and Portland borough councillors Andy Blackwood and Dorset county councillor and Southill resident David Harris are encouraging the community to become involved.

Coun Blackwood, who is the borough council spokesman for culture, tourism and community facilities, said residents will need to raise tens of thousands of pounds.

He added: “Finance is the key here and residents will need to find a source of funding.

“They will need to get in as many applications as possible to get some pots of money.

“I’m really impressed with the residents’ enthusiasm and their willingness to get things done.

“They are very up for it and now it’s a question of using that enthusiasm to mobilise support.”