OUTRAGED parents have blasted a “dreadful” council decision to take away play equipment, then claiming there is no budget to replace it.
The popular play area in Redbraes Park, Broughton, was dismantled and removed around four weeks ago with little warning given to local residents after parks officials deemed the “corroding” metal on a climbing frame unsafe. However, the cash-strapped city council no longer has a budget for “rebuilding of play areas” meaning that the park has been left empty.
Paula McLear, 43, said her sons Aiden, 9, and Kian, 8, “loved” using the park and were “extremely disappointed” to see it removed.
She added: “It just seemed to happen overnight, the barriers went up about three or four weeks ago and the ground was filled in and that’s all we heard until I contacted the council. “The kids were absolutely devastated when they realised, it’s always the first thing they mention when they get picked up from school. I think it’s something a lot of the parents are quite angry about.”
Local resident Gareth Overton agreed, saying: “It was very popular with children making their way home from the local schools and they loved using the equipment.
“The people who will use this equipment – our children – will soon become the city’s adults, and they deserve this investment.”
The council informed residents new equipment would not be installed as the £20,000 bill exceeds current financial limits.
In an email sent to one parent, a council parks official revealed: “Due to the ongoing need to make savings within the council, Parks Greenspace and Cemeteries no longer have a capital play programme to allow for the rebuilding of play areas and replacing larger items of play equipment.
“The replacement cost with a similar unit which will fit the space is around £20,000 to supply and install. This cost is beyond our normal play maintenance and repairs budget.”
Marguerite Hunter Blair, CEO of Play Scotland, said she was “disappointed” with the decision and called on the council to provide an equivalent space.
She said: “We understand the balancing act that local councils are having to do to maintain budgets and public services, but the need for spaces to play in terms of maintaining and improving the health and wellbeing of children is paramount and Edinburgh has a track record for innovative play design.”
Councillor Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener, said other funding options were being assessed, adding: “We have a large number of play areas in the city and their equipment is continuously monitored to ensure that they are safe. Following a regular inspection recently it was found that this equipment had reached the end of its life and we are exploring options to fund its replacement.”