Hawick and Kelso campaigners to hand over petitions calling for reprieve for playparks facing axe

Two petitions signed by more than 1,000 Borderers calling for a U-turn on the closure of 20 playparks in Kelso and Hawick will be presented to council bosses tomorrow, October 24.

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 12:00 am
One of the playparks under threat, in Hawick's Renwick Terrace.

Campaigners oppose plans to shut 74 playparks across the region and have raised concerns about the impact that move would have on children’s health and wellbeing.

Two petitions have been lodged with the local authority objecting to the specific plans in Hawick and Kelso, and they will be handed to Scottish Borders Council’s audit and scrutiny committee.

The council unveiled plans earlier this year to invest £5m in its larger and better used parks, including Shedden Park in Kelso, but it also intends to remove equipment from 74 playparks deemed to be in the poorest condition.

Nine Kelso playparks are facing the axe – in High Croft, Meadow Court, Orchard Park, Rosewood Gardens, Springwood Rise, Spylaw Park, Sydenham Court and Woodside Gardens.

Kirsty Wichary, the principal petitioner for Kelso, helped collect 492 signatures, through online and paper petitions

She said: “The smaller, local parks in Kelso currently threatened with closure are well used by the under-12s.

“Although investment in Shedden Park is to be applauded, we still need access to local parks, especially for smaller children in Kelso.

“These parks should also attract investment to keep them smart and in full working order.”

Some 10 playparks in Hawick are facing the axe – at Bowden Road, Burnfoot School, Hawick Green, Hislop Gardens, Leaburn Drive, Mayfield, Millers Knowe, Waverley Walk, Wellington Court and Wilson Drive.

The playpark at Loaning in Denholm is also on the hitlist.

A petition backed by a further 660 names supporting retention of those playparks was submitted by Hawick principal petitioner Greg Dalgleish.

Mr Dalgleish, boss of the town’s Think Fitness 4 Less gym, said: “Scottish Borders Council are seeking to decommission 11 playparks in the Teviot and Liddesdale locality.

“With the UK Government constantly battling to get kids exercising, we feel this decision by the council is ludicrous and only makes the challenge tougher.

“We urge a totally different approach to invest in giving the playparks a much-needed revamp and with new and exciting equipment.”

A report to councillors says removal of play equipment does not preclude use of the spaces affected for recreation and that the council would consider how they are used in future.

Tomorrow’s audit and scrutiny committee meeting, to be held at the council’s Newtown headquarters, starts at 10am.