Packer's Field

News: A Child Could Drown - 12/03/2007

Residents fear over unfinished sports development.

‘A Child Could Drown In The Flooded Field’

From The Bristol Evening Post 12/03/2007

Fears  have been raised over the condition of a flooded playing field in Bristol. One resident claims the water is deep enough for a child to drown in.

Bristol City Academy is developing Whitehall Playing Fields to create new sports pitches, but residents say work has ground to a halt and the land has become covered in water.

Any Smith, a hospital engineer, has used the playing fields since he was young and still plays football there with his children in the summer.

Mr Smith, 42, who has been campaigning to maintain access to the site for people who live nearby, says the land is now so waterlogged a child could easily drown.

He said: “Until August of last year the site was a popular well-used open field in an area which is extremely lacking in green space.

“The construction work on the site, which began in August 2006, stopped at the end of November 2006 and the site was left flooded.

“The once thriving open space, which was used respectfully by the vast majority of local people, now looks empty, derelict and is totally useless to everyone – except the local seagull population.

“It is still easily accessible, you just walk through an opening in the fence. It contains two large pools of water which are large enough to float a dinghy in and so are therefore also deep enough to drown a child.”

Mr Smith is also worried that more children will play in the waterlogged field as the evenings turn lighter, therefore putting themselves in danger.

And he claims that the land is contaminated and contains twice the “safe” levels of arsnic and hydrocarbons in the soil.

City Academy principle Ray Priest said there was no truth in the contamination claims. The land had all been tested for safety, he said.

Work had to stop in November because of heavy rain and has not yet been able to be restarted.

He said: “I do accept that the area is a bit of a mess. However, it is fully fenced off and therefore should be safe”.

Mr Priest said it was hoped that work could resume soon. But it was likely there would be a six month delay in the opening of the sports pitches which were due to be ready in September.

>To see the 'fence' click here<

>To read about the contamination click here<