Belfast Telegraph

£650k revamp for 10 city play parks

By Lesley-Anne Henry

A massiev improvement scheme is being launched to revamp play parks across Belfast.

City council is spending more than £650,000 refurbishing 10 playgrounds which have fallen into disrepair over recent years.

The move, which has been passed at a full meeting of the council, comes after an annual play park inspection deemed 20 of the city's parks "poor".

Glassmullin playground; Finlay Park; Lenadoon; Alexandra Upper; Highfield; Marrowbone junior; Tir na nog, Ligoniel; Tommy Patton playground; Knocknagoney playground, and Grampian Avenue playground have all been earmarked for development.

Five sites including Finlay Park, Alexandra Upper, Marrowbone, Highfield and Glassmullin are to be completely refurbished with replacement play equipment, surfacing and new ancillary structures such as seats, bins, fencing and signage.

At the other five sites play equipment will be renewed.

Additional funding may also be sought from external sources such as the Department for Social Development.

A further 10 sites, including Ballymacarrett, McCrory Park, Falls Park, Woodvale and Victoria Park have been omitted from this year's plans.

City council park outreach officers are expected to start a consultation exercise with local communities to ensure the construction work, due to be completed by next summer, is in line with real needs.

Chairman of the council's parks and leisure committee Steven Corr said better parks helped contribute to a healthier city.

"It's quite bad when we see the results that so many of our parks were deemed as poor," he said.

"Belfast City Council has to spend an awful amount of our budget repairing the damage done from anti-social behaviour.

"We are looking at more innovative ways at dealing with this problem."

In 2005 the council decided not to replace playground equipment if it was repeatedly damaged.

The tough stance was designed to send out a message that vandalism would not be tolerated.

Ulster Unionist Jim Rodgers, who also sits on the parks committee, said: "I welcome the refurbishment of the equipment, but we have got to remind people about the vandalism we are experiencing at the play parks."

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