FERRYDEN community councillors are the latest group to add their voices to the simmering discontent over Angus Council’s proposals to remove out of date play equipment from local parks.
Although no parks in the Ferryden area are earmarked in the authority’s proposals to remove play equipment from 51 parks across Angus, at the group’s recent meeting chairman Gordon Brown said that “money spent now” will avoid future problems for all children in the district.
Proposals to remove equipment which is reaching the end of its useful life or from little-used parks were put forward as a cost-cutting measure towards shaving more than three per cent off the neighbourhood services department’s budget, saving on maintenance and staffing costs.
The community council’s own plans to supplement play equipment in the village’s park have been shelved due to difficulties finding funding, but members had also hoped Angus Council might take on the responsibility for future maintenance.
Mr Brown said: “There used to be two playparks with equipment in our area and the one at Rossie Island has already been done away with. Every time you turn on the news your hear about problems with childhood obesity and a lack of exercise costing the government millions. My personal opinion is that the more things are taken away reducing opportunities for children to exercise will exacerbate the problem in the future, and money spent now will save problems in the future.”
Member David Wilson also suggested it might be cheaper for the council to repair equipment rather than remove it but Angus councillor Bill Duff pointed out that officials had said health and safety problems could arise and that the authority has “no money” to carry out the necessary repairs or replacements.
He said: “I agree, but legally we’re required to balance the budget. We’re not closing the parks themselves so if children want to go out to play football they can do so. To me that would do more for obesity than sitting on a swing. No-one wants to do this but we have to make unpalatable choices.”
With the council’s public consultation due to end this Friday, both the community councillors and Angus councillors urged the public to make sure their voices are heard. While a focus group meeting, consisting of local parent councils and community councils, will be held in the sports centre tonight (Wednesday), consultation forms can be filled in online at http://www.angus.gov.uk/bestvalue/consultation/ResearchCurrent.cfm while forms can also be collected from the council ACCESS office or library.