Borders council bosses appeal to communities to step in to save playparks facing axe

Jedburgh councillor James Brown at the town's Priors Meadow playpark.Jedburgh councillor James Brown at the town's Priors Meadow playpark.
Jedburgh councillor James Brown at the town's Priors Meadow playpark.
Council bosses are appealing to community groups to step in and save playparks currently threatened with closure by taking them off their hands.

Scottish Borders Council’s plans to get rid of up to 73 of its 243 play areas sparked controversy after being unveiled last month, and it is now seeking to placate critics of that move by promising not to proceed any further until more consultation has been carried out.

It’s also calling on communities voicing concerns about losing playparks to put up or shut up by taking them over themselves.

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The plans to scrap smaller playparks have been drawn up to enable the council to focus its resources on fewer but larger and better equipped playparks.

“The council is open to communities taking over maintenance of any play areas being proposed for closure and would encourage these groups to contact it by August 19 if interested,” said a spokesperson for the authority.

Borderers’ views on the proposed closures and £5m investment in bigger play areas are also being sought, and feedback can be left at until Monday, August 19.

“The proposals to remove play equipment from 73 playparks in the poorest condition would still see the majority of facilities retained,” the spokesperson added.

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“The Borders would still remain well above the national average for playpark provision when compared to other similar-sized councils.

“The proposals would only see playparks removed once investment is made into the local area, and if a community only has one playpark, it would remain.

“Investment in new facilities across the Borders can only be made by removing poor-quality equipment from the identified playparks.”

Council leader Shona Haslam added: “There have been a lot of discussions and comments in local communities since we announced our playpark strategy.

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“Our new Fit for 2024 programme aims to make sure the Scottish Borders meets future challenges, takes advantages of new opportunities and delivers the best possible outcomes for our communities.

“This investment ticks each of these boxes by providing modern, inclusive and fantastic playparks and outdoor spaces for our communities which will help a generation of children to get outside and active.

“By reducing our overall number of playparks, but still retaining significantly more than the national average, we can make sure our remaining facilities are maintained to the highest standard.”

Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison, the council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and locality services, stressed that the fate of the dozens of playparks facing the axe has yet to be decided, saying: “We would encourage anyone who could not attend or has not provided their views yet to do so by August 19 so they can be fully considered.

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“That would include any groups who may be keen to take on a playpark site.

“We believe we are investing in improving the right facilities in the right places but welcome further feedback on the proposals before a final decision is taken.”

Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown is backing the council’s calls for Borderers to come to the rescue of the playparks under threat, telling us: “The other side of it is that our communities could group together amd take over their playparks for themselves.”

These are the playparks facing closure ...