Earlston residents to be balloted over play park

L-r Mags Powell and Sarah Petrie at the site for the planned play park in Earlston at Mill Meadow.
L-r Mags Powell and Sarah Petrie at the site for the planned play park in Earlston at Mill Meadow.

Earlston residents are to be given the chance to vote on whether the controversial plan for a new play park gets the go ahead.

Earlston Community Development Trust (ECDT) was awarded £250,000 by the Big Lottery at the end of last year towards the costs of a new play park at Mill Meadow.

But feelings have been running high in the village ever since, with many against the proposed site next to the Leader Water.

The Big Lottery has been monitoring the on-going row and has already warned that the scheme has to have widespread community support if the cash is to be released.

ECDT has since carried out a community engagement exercise and, with that due to be completed at the end of this month, wants a ballot of villagers. The ballot proposal has the backing of the Big Lottery and ECDT will use the same benchmark for community support as set out in the community right to buy legislation.

Devised with rural small communities in mind, it requires a simple majority of voters to support a project on a turnout of at least 50%, unless there is reasonable justification as to why it was lower.

Local Scottish Borders councillor, David Parker, confirmed ECDT was now in discussions with Scottish Borders Council about options for a postal ballot.

“If the vote is a Yes, it is likely the play park would be developed, and if it were a No, no play park would be developed and Lottery funding would not be released,” he said this week.

“There are strong opinions both for and against and a postal ballot allowing everyone to express their views would seem very fair and inclusive.”

ECDT’s Mags Powell told The Southern: “Our next newsletter will be published shortly and will have full details of the ballot.”