Have your say on Shire play parks

Children and parents are being asked for their views on improving the public play parks on offer in Aberdeenshire.

A consultation has begun as part of a review of children’s play parks aimed at providing the best quality play areas in the best locations with the money available.

It will include a series of public meetings and presentations and feedback can also be given in an online survey.

There are currently 446 council play parks across the council’s six local areas. Key elements to be addressed in the review include: equity and location of provision, play value, condition, safety, funding models, partnership working and maintenance and replacement regimes.

Around £550,000 is spent every year on managing and maintaining local facilities owned by the council.

Over half that sum is required to ensure the sites are adequately inspected and repaired. This includes a thorough annual safety inspection to identify risk levels, overall conditions, Play Value and defects.

The remaining budget is available to fund upgrading and replacement of existing equipment. However, costs associated with the purchase and installation of new equipment are substantial and the current budget gives limited opportunity for major improvements.

Typically the replacement, or addition, of a set of swings with required safety surfacing will cost around £5,000. To refurbish a medium-sized play park with around ten items of equipment costs in the region of £75,000.

The review will look at current play park provision and gather the widest possible view on the existing play park portfolio as a whole, and on individual sites.

The aim is to develop a strategy which delivers the best possible portfolio of play parks in communities across Aberdeenshire.

Head of Roads and Landscape Services, Philip McKay, said: “We’re keen to ensure that the investment we make in our play parks meets the long term needs and aspirations of our communities.”

The council’s Director of Infrastructure Services, Stephen Archer, said: “We genuinely want to hear from as many people as possible, those who use the play parks in particular.

“These facilities have the capacity to help improve children’s learning, health and fitness as well as making our towns and villages more atractive places to be and we want to make sure they’re meeting the needs of residents and visitors.”

Schools’ pupil councils will also be included in the consultation to try to ensure as many young people as possible are able to say what they think.

To take part in the online consultation, please visit www.bit.ly/playparkreview.