Parks consultation results considered

A GROUP could be set up in Montrose to take over responsibility for some of the town’s play parks in the event Angus Council decides to remove their equipment.

Eight of the area’s parks are facing losing equipment under budget-cutting proposals put forward in October by council officers who identified that a number of play parks have issues with obsolete, difficult to repair equipment or did not meet current health and safety standards. The report identified 51 play parks across the county with 173 items of equipment that could be removed and 50 play parks which should be retained and developed.

The results of the authority’s subsequent public consultation on the report will be discussed today (Thursday) by its neighbourhood services committee, but moves are already being made locally for a fund-raising group to be established to maintain the threatened equipment.

Graham Brown, chairman of Ferryden Community Council, put the idea to members at the group’s meeting on Thursday. It followed a recent meeting between representatives of Ferryden and Montrose community councils, parent groups and council officials.

He said: “We felt generally that the condition of the equipment was not reflected in the report. We’re trying to get together a parent support group for fund-raising and are keeping in touch with Angus Council to see what could be done to keep the parks going. If equipment is moved then children will start getting inventive, and we have to ensure that they’re playing safely.”

Councillor David May said the council could help to source alternative funding from sponsorship and Lottery applications.

He added: “There are also possibilities to make play areas more interesting than having just the standard things we’ve been used to.”

More than 1,000 people filled in all or part of the online or paper surveys relating to the condition of play equipment in their local parks.

Councillor Donald Morrison, neighbourhood services convener, said: “As well as asking for the opinions of the local community, we also arranged a meeting with Play Scotland, to discuss all aspects of how we manage our play areas whilst achieving maximum benefits in times of financial constraints. These comments and opinions will all help us to inform our thinking and decision-making as to the next steps, and for the future.”

“Although the council has invested heavily in recent years to redevelop play areas, of the 50 play parks proposed for retention, 28 sites are in need of upgrading ideally within the next one to three years, at an estimated cost of £1.21 million. The 51 sites identified for removal of equipment would require further funding of around £705,000 in addition to the £1.21 million, giving a total funding requirement of £1.91 million.”