Delays in play park refurbishments leave South Lanarkshire councillors puzzled

South Lanarkshire councilors have questioned the progress of the play park refurbishment program after delays in hiring two specialist officers to help.

The Scottish Government announced last year that it would provide each local authority £5million in funding to inject into play park renewal programme.

Elected members at the financial resources scrutiny forum last week discussed the program and its development.

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The community enterprise resources committee agreed in September that the best use of the 2021 to 2022 funding from the government should be to employ two landscape officers.

The officers will be employed to undertake surveys of play parks to develop a program of what work should be carried out to renew them.

The renewal of play parks is behind due to delays in employing the officers to undertake the surveys.

Councilor Grant Ferguson questioned the length of the contract for the officers, he asked: “I was just thinking about the length of the contract for these roles, there is no clarity on that, could you flesh that out a little?

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“The reason I’m asking is its 233 play areas, it’s a lot of ground to cover if you’ve got two officers in post, I’m thinking about when those roles will begin and I’m thinking about the sheer amount of ground they’ve got to cover, how long will they be in post for?”

Once employed, the officers will be in place for 23 months to survey the play parks and determine what work needs to be done.

Councilor Walter Brogan questioned if there was any set plans on the development, adding: “Do we have a program for what’s going to be completed over the next year, do we have a rolling program for that because we’ve kind of fallen off a cliff at the moment so I’m not sure what is going to happen?

“In terms of the surveys, what parks are going to be surveyed and what parks are not going to be, I’m assuming some of them are okay.”

There has been no approved capital program for the next year, however it is expected that a plan will be approved at the full council meeting scheduled for the end of this month.

All 233 play parks will be examined once development officers are employed.

Clydesdale East councillor, Eric Holford, asked if all play parks will be renovated and how funding will be used.

He said: “On the 3rd of April last year, our First Minister said that she was going to put up a £60m fund in place, a plan to renew every play park in Scotland so that all children have access to a place to play in their own communities.

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“Now I did argue at the time that £60m may renew the play parks in North and South Lanarkshire so long as the rest of Scotland was okay to step out of the system.

“We’ve got the first allocation of £5m, of which our allocation is being entirely spent on recruiting two people to do a survey, in other words not a single lick of paint is going to come out of that money, let alone a new slide or a new swing or anything else.

“I would like to know what proportion of all the 233 play parks in South Lanarkshire will be refurbished and will that number be every play park in South Lanarkshire?

“Or what proportion do we think we’ll manage to do considering the average cost of a play park renewal is around the £100,000 mark.”

Until the surveys have been completed, there is no clarity of what play parks will need renewed and the surveys will inform further action on what will be done with further funding from the government, there are a range of steps to be taken before a commitment is made.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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