Nov 6 2012 by Perthshire Advertiser, Perthshire Advertiser
A group of Perth parents are hoping they can keep a playpark open by running it themselves.
The park in Matthews Drive, Tulloch, was one of 19 sites due to be axed by Perth and Kinross Council.
Environment convener Alan Grant said the move would save more than £115,000 and insisted there would be no u-turn.
Council officers said they had picked areas where there was ‘‘overlapping provision’’ – but residents believe there has been a lack of consultation.
News of the cost-cutting measures shocked families and almost 1000 people put their names to a petition demanding the council reconsider the dismantling of children’s parks across the region.
A year on and one community has decided to take matters into their own hands by taking up a lease on a park.
Mother-of-two Fi Penman decided to take action when she heard the swings and slides at the Matthews Drive playpark were to be removed.
She told The PA yesterday: “My living room window looks out on the park. It’s a wonderful place. My children can take their bikes there and have a safe time playing.
“A group of people from our street agreed we wanted to lease the park from the council, with a view to eventually buying it. The leasing cost is going to be £1200 a year.”
A meeting with PKC parks officials is planned this week to deliver a progress report.
Mrs Penman said: “We had planned to take it over right away but a few important details are holding things up. We need to formally register our committee and plan how we’re going to deal with outstanding maintenance costs.”
Mrs Penman, who chairs for the Save Matthews Drive Playpark group, explained the snags that they’ll need to address.
“The bi-monthly inspection by the council shows various items are considered unsafe,” she added.
“There’s been no maintenance repairs since the council budget was taken away in March. Matthews Drive playpark has had just enough essential work done to keep the public liability insurance on track.
“Last winter took its toll on the rubber matting and the chute doesn’t pass a ‘toggle test’, meaning a child’s clothing could get caught as they slide down.
“There’s rot on the climbing frame and boarding and the rope-bridge cables are wearing down to the metal cable underneath. We’ve asked for external quotes and the committee has decided to investigate what grant funding we can apply for.
“We want to hold a summer garden party and stage various community events to raise money.”
Five parks in Tulloch have lost funding in the budget cuts. Although PKC has agreed to retain King James VI, Hillyland and Mathieson Drive play parks and refurbish them, parents point out that the latter is a quarter of a mile away from Matthews Drive.
Mrs Penman added: “That’s too far for my kids to go unsupervised. Many people moved here because of the park.”
Perth City North councillors Dave Doogan and Callum Gillies have been supportive in the campaign.
Cllr Gillies said: “We must not rob children of the right to have a play area in their locality where they are safe and their parents known where they are.”