Mon, 13 Jul 2020
THATCHAM Town Council is to splash out more than £7,000 on hand sanitisers for its children’s playgrounds to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
But one councillor believes the expenditure cannot be justified.
Councillors voted last week to install the footpump-operated devices at access points to its 12 play areas.
The sanitisers, made by Morti Sport & Play, cost £6,659.96 plus a £40 installation cost per unit.
The Government announced last month that play areas could reopen from July 4 after being closed for three months during lockdown.
Discussing the proposal, town clerk Mel Taylor said she had suggested the sanitisers to “give users a little bit of piece of mind and confidence when using the facilities”.
Supporting the sanitisers Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) said: “This is the exact sort of thing we need to do to open play areas for children as soon as the Government gives the word to do so. This is the kind of thing we need to implement so we can get life back to normal as soon as possible.”
Supporting the idea in principle, Jeremy Cottam (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) added that the town council should not invest without investigating the equipment’s reliability.
Opposed to the idea of taxpayers money going on the devices, Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said: “I think it is horrifically expensive.
“We are coming to the end of this crisis, not the start of it.
“There’s no guarantee that these are going to be used.
“I feel they may be redundant as soon as they are installed and we will be left with having to pay to maintain them.”
Mr Crumly said he had seen a similar device in Waitrose and said they were “a substantial bit of kit” that would cost a fair amount to install.
He said: “I wonder if it would actually be used or whether we could compel anybody to use it and once its time is done we will have to pay to remove it.
“I’m really not in favour of this expense. I don’t see that the expense can be justified.”
Saying he was disappointed with Mr Crumly’s view, Mr Jeffery replied: “I think it’s entirely responsible and potentially irresponsible if we don’t do something along these lines.
“We are talking about a virus that has killed probably 50,000 people in this country already.
“Children appear to be least affected by it, but it appears they are carriers and one thing we want to encourage is for them to sanitise their hands.
“We know the virus will stay on surfaces for days.”
Former headteacher Paul Field (Green, Thatcham Central) said he was dubious and asked about the ongoing costs of “putting juice in and having someone to put the juice in”.
He added that pushing buttons was “a popular pastime” with children, which could lead to more frequent refills.
Ms Taylor said each device held five litres, which “should last a considerable amount of time”.
She added that each refill was in the region of £50, but she did not think they would need to be refilled too often.
Lib Dem councillors voted for the sanitisers. Mr Crumly voted against. His wife Ellen Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) and Mr Field abstained.