Councillor promises public meeting over Gala play park fears

A PUBLIC meeting is to be called to discuss plans for a £30,000 play park in Galashiels, after road safety fears were raised.

Councillor Bill Herd says he will arrange the meeting within the coming months, but believes it is “outrageous” that no facility is available for children at the northern end of the town.

The park would be situated at the bottom of the Ladhope estate, but one nearby resident does not believe it should go ahead, while Galashiels representative Bill  White says he is yet to be convinced by the project.

The homeowner, who did not wish to be named, said: “The park will be close to the main A7 road. If a football is kicked over the fence it will end up on the road.

“I really don’t want to be saying ‘I told you so’ in a year’s time should a serious accident happen.

“You have people from Langlee signing a play park petition, but are they really going to travel all the way across town to use the facility?

“During last winter, there were four cars which were travelling from Ladhope Drive down the slope to the A7 road which could not stop because of the conditions – that could have resulted in a disaster if kids had been playing in a play park.”

Councillor White added: “I have concerns with road safety, cost and whether people actually want a play park.

“If the people living near the site really want it, I have no real issues. But I would like to see a public meeting take place so that everyone can give their views. The last thing we want is for a play area to be put in at a great cost and then never used.

“I am yet to be convinced it is wanted.”

However, Councillor Herd, who lives on the Ladhope estate, refuted the suggestions and says a new play park is long overdue.

He told us: “There is a wee bit of worry for some people, including one councillor, about certain issues.

“We have consulted with SBC’s roads department and they are satisfied, provided we put in a short barrier along Ladhope Drive. The A7 is far enough away from the park site.

“When you look at other play parks in the town, some are closer to roads where the traffic is moving much quicker.

“As for footballs being kicked down onto the A7, we plan to put a ‘no ball games’ sign up in the park.

“There are 100 parents with 150 kids in this area who are behind the plans.

“I want to be open and transparent about this. The meeting will be to ensure that the general public has its say and air any concerns.”

Mr Herd says the park would cost between £28,000 and £32,000, but will need the support of fellow Galashiels councillors – Mr White, John Mitchell and Sandy Aitchison – as the scheme will have to be paid for from pay-parking funds given to members to spend on local projects.

He added: “I have measured the distance between Bristol Terrace and Wylie’s Brae and there is no play park in that 1.2-mile area. There are at least six on the other side of the valley in Galashiels.

“Considering you probably have around a fifth of the town’s population living in this area, it is quite outrageous.”

An SBC spokesman said it believes it owns the land for the park site, following claims it belongs to a Ladhope trust set up in the 1930s.

He added: “The relevant council team was consulted, with regards to road safety. It was suggested that a safety barrier should be erected between the proposed play park boundary fence and the road. The cost of this is currently being established, and the scheme has not yet gained final approval.”

Ian Purvis, chairman of Galashiels Community Council, added: “We are broadly supportive provided all safety considerations are allowed for and, of course, it comes in on budget.”