ALMOST £200,000 could be spent on upgrading play areas in Bicester, but some spaces have been earmarked to close.

Out of the 60 play areas managed by Bicester Town Council, six have been identified as needing a revamp while eleven could see its equipment removed and the space used for other recreational purposes.

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The areas that will be renovated with modern play equipment are on Keble Road, Germander Way, Dunlin Court, Woodpecker Close, Market End Way and Meredith Close. Play items here have either reached the end of life or have been decommissioned to a poor standard.

Some of the play areas that could close are on Woodruff Close, Saffron Close, Mullien Road, Foxglove Close, Oxlip Leys and Gentian Close. The majority of these areas are small and only consist of around two pieces of playing equipment that are no longer fit for purpose.

The spaces have been under review since 2017 and at an Environment Committee meeting on Monday, councillors agreed that a consultation would be held giving people the chance to have their say on whether they think the parks identified should close and what could be done with the space instead.

Letters will be sent to residents who live near the play areas, offering some options on what the space could be used for such as an exercise area, a community garden, a community growing space or any other idea.

Town councillor for Bicester West Les Sibley welcomes the project and says it provides a great way for people to get involved with shaping where they live.

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He said: "It's really quite an exciting programme of enhancement and refurbishment of play areas. It's a fantastic opportunity for local residents across the town because it's the people who live near these play areas that should get the chance to let us know what they would like to see. Hopefully their suggestions will be supported by their neighbours."

Refurbishing the six parks would cost an estimated £191,000 and the council will have to make considerations in its 2021/22 projects budget.

Upgrades would include replacing existing play equipment such as obstacle courses and installing more items.

Mr Sibley said: "Some play areas will cost more to renovate than others. We can't do the work all at once so there will be a staggered approach, but we want to get the project underway and completed as soon as resources allow."

He also says the need for upgrades have come at the right time with children looking forward to playing in parks when the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end.

He added: "As soon as the pandemic is over, people will be rushing to their play areas so enhancements and installing modern equipment will be great. We need a wide variety of play equipment to satisfy all ages, giving children something to look forward to once the pandemic is over."

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Only a handful of play areas in Bicester have reopened after they closed back in March when the country went into its first lockdown.

Mr Sibley would like to see all sites reopen in the not too distant future.