It’s all swings and roundabouts in East Ayrshire’s play parks

Play parks and outdoor play facilities dominated much of East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet Agenda today as councillors and officers debated the merits of proposals set out in a report detailing plans for upgrades and renewals over the coming months. 

In a joint agreement with COSLA, the Scottish Government recently announced £5 million for play parks across Scotland. East Ayrshire has received £112k from this fund, for play park upgrades in the current financial year. This funding is the first round of the Scottish Government’s total planned investment of £60million for play park renovation over the current parliamentary term. Allocations for the additional funding have still to be announced.

Greener Communities are responsible for the management and maintenance of 84 play parks within East Ayrshire communities.  The condition of these parks varies significantly, with facilities having been installed on a phased basis as part of the previous play park programme; some were installed almost 20 years ago, with the most recent park installation taking place in 2019.

In September 2021, officers carried out a detailed audit to assess the overall condition of each play park within East Ayrshire and play parks were ranked in order of priority with four categories being considered: use of facilities; condition of equipment; age of the park and overall condition of the surface.

The facilities were also assessed in terms of accessibility and inclusivity and the audit concluded that many of the older play parks would benefit from additional improvements and equipment to provide suitable access for children of all abilities. 

In total, 12 play parks have been identified as priority locations for upgraded facilities and new equipment, and a further 27 will benefit from the play park painting programme. 

The Council has allocated an additional £41k to supplement funding from Scottish Government to ensure the priorities set out in this programme can be fulfilled. Furthermore, an additional £100k has been earmarked each year for the next five years from the Council’s Renewals and Repairs Fund to repair or replace equipment as part of the ongoing routine maintenance of these facilities.  

Councillor Jim McMahon, cabinet spokesperson for Communities welcomed this additional investment into communities.

He said “I’m pleased to see this planned investment in our local play parks. During the pandemic, considerable emphasis was placed on the importance of outdoor exercise and play and these facilities were well used by local children and their families.

“We can support this continuing trend by ensuring our facilities are well maintained and cater for all needs in our communities. I look forward to hearing more about how the additional funds can be used to accelerate improvements across all of our play parks.”

Councillor Claire Leitch, cabinet spokesperson for Children and Young People, Equalities and Inclusion added:  “Most kids (and adults alike!) love a play park. However, I’m aware that not all children can easily or safely access a play park and I’m delighted that we are taking steps to remove barriers to inclusive play across our communities. This upgrade programme - particularly the installation of new inclusive play equipment - will support both physical and social integration, which are important factors in the health and wellbeing of all of our young people.”

Elected members were keen to accelerate the programme to ensure all local communities benefit from the additional funding which is expected from Scottish Government, with a specific request to consider if there is a need for to create additional outdoor play facilities in local communities. Proposals for the next phase of play park upgrades will be developed as soon as the next tranche of funding from Scottish Government is confirmed. 

The equipment required for the existing upgrade programme will be ordered within the current financial year, and it is hoped that installation would be completed within six months.

View the full report.