A hugely controversial plan to charge children to use a council adventure playground has been put on hold just three days before it was due to be introduced.

The embarrassing u-turn by Wandsworth Council was hailed as “a victory for common sense” by one parent who was part of a group that had instructed top law firm Bindmans to bring a class action against the council.

The council announced last Wednesday that it would "look again" at its plan to charge youngsters £2.50 to use its Battersea Park Adventure Playground, which was due to be trialled from last Saturday.

However, the council's children's services spokeswoman, Councillor Kathy Tracey, said it may still introduce a fee to use the specialist playground, which costs £200,000 a year to run.

She said a survey will be carried out over the summer months asking users what cost-cutting measures they approved of, before a report is published in November.

Coun Tracey said one possible way to save cash would be to remove some of the more expensive equipment, which needs staffing.

She added: "If they want to maintain the sort of provision that's there, we have to find a mechanism for charging for it."

Many parents, Labour councillors and MPs had spoken out against the plan which they felt would unfairly disadvantage poorer children.

Five angry families had even instructed Bindmans after their children announced they wanted to fight against any "pay to play" proposal. They argued the decision-making process was flawed and warned that a claim would be lodged in court if the authority did not respond by last Tuesday.

One of the parents, Yolande van-de-l'Isle, said: "I think the u-turn definitely has been provoked by the legal action - I'm very glad we did not need to go to court.

"I'm very pleased about the change. I want to try and keep the pressure on to make sure they don't try and bring charges back in the future because the council statement does not rule that out."

Another parent supporting the challenge, Sojourner Jones, said the outcome was "a victory for common sense". Meanwhile, London Mayor hopeful, Ken Livingstone, said victory was in sight but urged campaigners to "to go the extra mile to make sure it is stopped".

Last week, Coun Tracey, said: "We have listened very carefully to all the suggestions and points of view that have been made on this issue and feel it would be right and proper to explore these more fully before looking at this matter again."

When asked whether the legal threat played a part in the latest announcement, a council spokesman said: "We have already informed the complainants solicitors that we do not accept the points they have made and do not agree with their conclusions."

Coun Tracey said the challenge was "out of date and out of time" because it was not lodged within a 90 day period of the charging proposal being announced.

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