No decision yet on play parks

Neighbourhood Services convener councillor Donald Morrison.

Neighbourhood Services convener councillor Donald Morrison.

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THE CONVENER of Angus Council’s neighbourhood services committee has urged the local authority, elected members and communities to “think outside the box” when it comes to planning future playpark provision for the area.

Speaking to the committee last Thursday when members noted the results of the consultation exercise regarding children’s play area provision within Angus, Councillor Donald Morrison urged everyone to “use their imagination” more to allow youngsters the opportunity to use theirs.

He thanked everyone who had responded to the consultation and attended meetings, and paid tribute to those who highlighted the issue through social media.

He said: “As we are aware this should have been dealt with nearly three years ago when it formed part of a Best Value Review but unfortunately, for one reason or another, it didn’t.

“I apologise for the public angst this has caused; we all knew how emotive play areas were for communities, especially our children. But the report was about equipment rather than the play area itself.”

He expressed his disappointment that some felt the decision had already been taken to remove all the equipment at earmarked sited adding: “No decision had or has been taken by any elected member.”

“However, the reality is because of a lack of additional maintenance investment during the last five years and with ever tighter budgets over the next five, this report had to come forward sooner rather than later as more equipment is beginning to be or is now past its best, but no equipment will be removed other than for health and safety reasons.”

A stay of execution for almost 175 unsafe or out of date items was the outcome of the meeting, affecting 51 parks across the district.

Members considered a report which highlighted more than 1,000 responses to the public consultation and a 2,272-signature petition supporting retention of local facilities.

Councillor Morrison added the comments in the consultation gave councillors a “real chance” to look at those parks which remain important community outdoor areas and start investigating new ways of delivering the best possible play choices for youngsters, whilst living “within our budgets.”

He told the meeting he and vice-convener councillor Jeanette Gaul had had a “hugely successful” meeting with a representative of Play Scotland.

“It left us with some excellent ideas to look into further and hopefully this meeting was the first of many”.

He praised the hard work carried out by residents in Padanaram and those living near Davidson Park in Kirriemuir who are fund-raising for play equipment.

He added: “These community groups have gained the experience of the positives and the pitfalls in fund-raising and I hope they would pass on this experience to other groups wishing to get together for their park area. I therefore invite voluntary organisations, local businesses and other community and youth groups to come forward. I can assure members councillor Gaul and I will try to squeeze any departmental funding we can while seeking available external funding.”

Given the detailed nature of the report, he proposed a second phase which would allow councillor Morrison and councillor Gaul to meet with members on a ward by ward basis to go through the comments constructively as part of a “workable and affordable strategy”, which was agreed by members.