Call for play areas to get extra money

Ballymoney Borough Council has agreed to look into increasing their budget for upgrading of local play areas.

The issue was raised during a recent Full Council meeting after members backed a call to prioritise Seacon and Finvoy play areas rather than Carnany and Westgate.

The Leisure and Amenities Committee meeting report explained: ‘It is considered that the replacement of the safety surfaces at the Jubilee Play Area at Riverside Park, Ballymoney, ought to take precedence over any other proposals from the finite resources set aside for both play area upgrade and the landscaping of former/discontinued facilities.

‘It is recommended that Committee consider the matter again and make recommendation to Council on the work to be carried out in 2014-2015.

‘Motion 1: It was proposed by Cllr John Finlay, seconded by Alderman Kennedy to recommend that Council prioritise Seacon and Finvoy play areas. Since equipment has been removed from Lislagan and Carnany, Cllr Finlay would like the area to be more aesthetically pleasing, providing park benches in the green area.

‘Motion 2: It was proposed by Cllr Roma McAfee, seconded by Cllr Blair to recommend that Council prioritise Carnany and Westgate play areas.

‘Head of Amenities reiterated the Director’s request that replacement of safety surfaces at Jubilee Play Area at Riverside Park, ought to take precedence over any other proposals.

‘Cllr Finlay queried the amount of budgetary provision which has been set aside. Cllr Evelyne Robinson sought to clarify the Capital Expenditure for Riverside Park in 2012/13, also in the 2013/14 Riverside Park Improvement scheme and the current balance at 2014/15, and as projects have still not yet been delivered, she considered Riverside Park did not require additional money for its play park.

‘Alderman Kennedy queried whether there was a long term strategy and budget to deal with all 8 play parks detailed. Cllr Finlay requested the information be brought back prior to the next Council Meeting.

‘Chair put Motion 2 to the meeting, Cllr Finlay requested a recorded vote. It was proposed by Councillor Finlay, seconded by Alderman Kennedy to recommend that Council prioritise Seacon and Finvoy play areas.

However at last Monday’s Full Council meeting, Cllr McAfee expressed her disappointment that Carnany was not prioritised.

In response Cllr Ian Stevenson said that Council ‘couldn’t do all the parks in one year’ adding that ‘it would be nice to have good play areas all over but Council can’t do everything’.

He continued: “I do have sympathy for Carnany but we have spent a lot on Megaw Park. I suggest when the schemes are finished we look and see if any money is left and then we can spend that in different areas.”

Cllr Anita Cavlan questioned about a play area in Loughguile stating: “They have very little in that direction. I thought Council was looking into securing a piece of ground at Scally Park for a toddler play park. Maybe if we saw movement we could spend any left over money on that?”

Cllr Finlay agreed with Cllr Stevenson: “We can’t do everything in one year but I’m happy if we could put another play park in and do three play areas with the £175,000 allocated.

“Maybe we can ask for this to be brought back at the next Leisure Committee and then we could get answers.”

Cllr Tom McKeown said that with play parks, ratepayers ‘see great return for their money’ adding: “If there is any spare finances or extra money in Council budget then we should put it towards play areas.”

Director Iris McCleary explained that ‘hopefully early to mind-June’ she would know Council’s position on revenue and capital and any surplus available.

Cllr McKeown suggested that members ‘wait until June to get figures and see if they can increase the budget for play areas’.

Agreeing Cllr Finlay added: “We should look again and see which each play area costs and see if there is any extra money available.”