The Fishponds playing field on Hebdon Road in Tooting will finally be open to the public after a six year campaign by the then MP for Tooting, Sadiq Khan, local Labour councillors and residents.
“It has taken the council a long time but we are delighted that what used to be a locked door for all except those who could afford to pay will now be open for all local people to use”, said Annamarie Critchard, one of the Labour councillors for Tooting.
The council has agreed to open the playing fields on a trial basis until October 28. Councillor Critchard said: “We want the trial to be a success, so please visit the playing fields and send your all-important feedback to the council by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Until the trial was agreed by the council the playing field was only available to organisations that paid to use them and was closed to the public. During the trial members of the public will be able to use the playing fields when staff are present.
The times when the site will be open will vary from week to week , but staff are present to supervise sports pitch bookings most days, usually from 7am until 5pm. The exact times will be displayed online at: www.enablelc.org/fishponds and on the gate of the playing fields.
The 10 acre green field has a cricket pitch, a full size football pitch, a smaller football pitch and a running track, as well as open space.
Local mum Sophia Parker said: “It isn’t always safe for kids to play out in the busy streets so I have always walked the 20 minutes to the Common so my three children could get some fresh air and have a run around or a game of football. Fishponds playing fields are just a few minutes’ walk away, so much easier to get to and I don’t need to cross busy main roads with toddlers in tow.”
“Having access to these playing fields will transform the lives of local kids and I hope all local people use them as often as they can”.
James Daley, one of the Labour councillors in Tooting who helped launch the campaign six years ago, said: “Local people have a right to expect the council’s public spaces to be open, free of charge, for children to play in. Even when these playing fields were being used, the public was not allowed to come onto the site. We believe that public services should not only be about money-making opportunities but about what is best for the community”.
If the trial is a success then the Labour Councillors will continue to campaign for the playing fields to be open to the public and for a playground to be installed.