Council slammed over playpark

THE AWARD-winning community group, The Association of Residents of Cliffburn and Hayshead (ARCH) has slammed Angus Council over their performance in maintaining the Cliffburn Community Park in Abbotsford Road.

Margot Reilly, association chair, has alleged that it has never been maintained to the high standards that were expected over the past six years and sometimes looks a bit scruffy. Pieces of equipment have also been removed by council officials and not replaced.

She said that the association understands that the park suffers from vandalism but it is not alone in Angus in that respect.

She stated: “We raised all the money to re-equip it in the first place and surely the council should honour their commitment to maintain it to a decent standard.”

Margo recalled the background to the park upgrade. She explained: “In 2002 the residents’ association entered into a partnership with Angus Council as part of the regeneration of Cliffburn. One area we focussed on was the provision of facilities for play for the young people living in the area.

“We were conscious that the facilities were inadequate and the existing park in Abbotsford Road had one piece of equipment in it. In 2004, we called on Angus Council to improve the park as part of the regeneration process and were told they had no money to do so.

“However the council suggested that if the residents’ association could find funding to re-equip the park then the council would maintain it in perpetuity.

“After a monumental effort by all our members, the association eventually managed, from a variety of funding bodies and by fund-raising ourselves, to raise £256,000 towards re-equipping the park and handed this over to Angus Council who procured the equipment on our behalf for the facility.”

Margo continued, “We were astonished when the council told us that there would be no lighting in the park, as this was not council policy. We argued that the whole idea of having a fully equipped park was to offer distractions to young people who hung around street corners and shop areas, but stressed that without lighting the young people would not be able to use it after 4 p.m. from October to April.

“Eventually the council agreed that if the residents’ association could find an additional ££15,000 then they would install lighting and that we should consider a green option of wind and solar power. Fortunately, further funding bids were successful and the money required was found.

“Being laymen in terms of procuring lighting, we agreed with what we thought was expertise and solar panel/wind turbine lighting was erected. However, these were fraught with difficulties right from the outset and were so easily vandalised that it brought into question the so called ‘expert’ advice that we received.

“For example, the boxes that held the mechanisms were at a low level and easy for vandals intent on causing mischief to get into and destroy. Six years on from the opening of the park none of the lights now work and we have no guarantees from Angus Council that any sort of alternative will replace the now useless lighting despite raising the subject with them on numerous occasions.”

A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “We maintain all our play parks in Angus, including Cliffburn Community Park,  to the same standard .

“The equipment at Cliffburn has been repaired or replaced on a regular basis but there are currently three items out of order until additional funding can be identified for their repair or replacement. Unfortunately, our maintenance budget cannot support the repeated  replacement of vandalised items of equipment.

“We ask members of the public who witness any  acts of vandalism to our parks equipment to contact the police or report it to the council through our ACCESSLine 08452 777 778 or at any council offices.”

She concluded: “The replacement of the lighting units has been included in the council’s capital spending budget for 2012/13.”