Save the children’s local play parks

SAVE OUR SWINGS: Mums, dads and their kids braved sub-zero temperatures for a peaceful playpark protest.'
SAVE OUR SWINGS: Mums, dads and their kids braved sub-zero temperatures for a peaceful playpark protest.'

LOCAL mums, dads and children gathered as part of the ‘Protect our Parks and Save our Swings’ campaign in Glenogil Park, Forfar, and Hillside Park, Kirriemuir, to save play parks that are under threat of closure.

The groups in Angus have ­been gathering momentum since the council opened a consultation process in November and organised ‘peaceful protests’ on Friday, when the children in the local community would have the opportunity to have their say on the matter.

At the meeting which took place at 10.30 a.m. at Glenogil Park, Jacob Bruce (5), from Forfar, said: “It wouldn’t be fair” on the other children when he was commenting on the potential closure of play parks in Angus to save the council money.

Rhiannon Reid (33) one of the parents from Forfar said: “It is parks like Glenogil that are in walking distance for the community and are perfect for taking the children for some fun and exercise. These are the parks that get you out of the house and are used every day.”

The ‘Protect our Parks and Save our Swings’ campaign has gained more than 400 supporters and has already won a concession from Angus Council, which has agreed to extend the consultation process and added new public meetings at more accessible times.

The angry parents have expressed disbelief that the council, which has prioritised healthy activities for children, would remove play parks some of which the council’s own survey rated as in good condition and with ‘good’ safety surfaces.

It has stated that the play parks for the chop in housing areas have ‘low amenity value’ and a ‘restricted user group’, completely ignoring the value local children get from playing on swings close to their home.

MSP’s Nigel Don and Jenny Marra attended the groups most recent previous demonstration in Forfar. SNP MSP’s are considering making the right to play a statutory duty so that penny-pinching councils won’t shirk their responsibility to their youngest citizens.

The co-ordinated protest on St Andrews day showed the strength of feeling across the county.

At Carnoustie, Councillor Brian Boyd attended the protest along with Santa who is hoping to help save the play parks as a Christmas gift.

SNP councillors Mairi Evans and Jim Houston went to the Brechin play park to hear the views on potential closures.

Joan Fraser said on the group’s Facebook page: “Small children in the Westfield area love the play park. It is very well used by the kids going to and from Burnside Primary. What would we be left with? A square of concrete? That’s not very nice.”

At the meeting which was held at Hillside Park in Kirriemuir one of the parents and a member of the Community Council, Audrey Ireland (35) said: “I joined in the protest about the parks closing on Facebook. We had a good turnout on Friday at the park in Kirriemuir with over 40 people turning up to show their support.

“I think it would be a loss to the community and also the other communities in Angus if they were to lose their play areas as it is somewhere safe for the local children to play, get exercise and meet new friends.”

You can join in the discussion and show your support for the ‘Protect our Parks and Save our Swings’ campaign by joining the Facebook group of the same name.