VISITORS to Wat Tyler Country Park will soon be able to make use of a new playground, thanks to a £80,000 grant.

The existing swings, slide, climbing frame and tunnels will be torn out to make way for replacement equipment.

The popular country park, in Pitsea, attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year, and staff said the well-used play area has become worn.

Basildon Council, which runs Wat Tyler, could not find money from its budget to fund the project, so waste firmVeolia stepped in to help.

Steve Prewer, manager of the park, said, “Our existing play equipment is so popular it has become necessary to replace it.

“At Wat Tyler Country Park we have a reputation for providing challenging and interesting apparatus and we are already deciding which equipment we will be installing to ensure its popularity among our visitors is maintained.

“We are very grateful to Veolia for making this possible through its continued support.”

It is hoped the new equipment will be in place by the summer holiday.

Kevin Blake, Tory councillor responsible for leisure and arts, said: “Wat Tyler is going from strength to strength.

“The play equipment hasn’t been abused like we’ve experienced in other parks, it has worn out because it has been used so much.

“I’m delighted we can replace it. Veolia has been a great supporter of Wat Tyler and I can’t thank it enough.”

Veolia North Thames Trust has handed out more than £1.5million to Wat Tyler over the past 14 years, including grants for the educational Green Centre, the miniature railway and security fencing.

The latest round of grants from the waste firm, which runs the tip next to the country park, also saw £13,800 given to Shotgate Parish Council, which will be used to regenerate Bawdsey Path.

The 4th Billericay Scout Group, based in Laindon Road, Billericay, has been given £2,000 of funding to set up a microgeneration scheme, which will allow them to produce their own electricity.

Doug Benjafield, chairman of Veolia North Thames Trust, said: “At Veolia, the trustees and I are continually receiving a large number of applications from local organisations, all of which are of an extremely high quality.

“We are very pleased that at our most recent meeting we were able to agree funding for more than 20 projects, all of which will have a positive impact on our local communities.”