COUNCIL chiefs who made the decision to scrap small play parks to help pay for new state-of-the-art facilities have come under fire for not providing maintenance costs and warned it could bring the local authority into disrepute.

At a meeting of Peebles Community Council elected members were asked what the costs are for upkeep of the small play parks under threat.

It emerged that Tweeddale Councillor Stuart Bell (SNP) asked that very question to the executive member responsible for the policy and was told “he did not have that information”.

This added fuel to the fire at the community council meeting last week as members support the new facilities, but are desperately trying to save the small play parks in Peebles.

As previously reported, Scottish Borders Council has launched a public consultation and is inviting communities to take over the maintenance of the parks set to be culled.

But community leaders in Peebles have launched their own consultation which resulted in a clear message from locals who want the small play parks to remain.

The survey was hailed a success with 311 responses.

• 74 per cent of the respondents did not want the new play park at the expense of the small play parks,

• 82 per cent entirely supported the concept of the new play park if the ones that were designated for removal were kept

• 90 per cent wanted more consultation.

Chairman Les Turnbull said: “These are purely indicative; this is not a scientific consultation by any means. It’s just an indication of what people are thinking.

“I have personally been around all the small play parks that are under threat and I’ve spoken to people around the play parks and they’re telling me that they’re used, even though there might only be one piece of equipment, it’s still being used.

“Something which hasn’t come out before is that a lot of the people that are using these play parks are actually grandparents who are looking after their grandchildren. What concerns them if these are all removed is that they have to go some distance to the other play parks.”

Mr Turnbull said the question that hangs in the balance is if the community want to keep the play parks, how are they going to do it?

He said: “I don’t know what the costs are involved in maintaining these smaller play parks. Can I ask our councillors do you know what the costs are?”

Councillor Stuart Bell replied: “I specifically asked the executive member responsible for this policy which I have some difficulties with. I asked him at the last council meeting for the cost of maintenance of the play parks that are under threat in Tweeddale and he told me he did not have that information.

“I said to him publicly, I expect you not to take a decision to shut something if you don’t have clarity about the costs and suggested to him that it might lead the council into disrepute and he did not respond to that.”

Mr Turnbull agreed and added: “It seems odd that they are going to close them on the basis of expense when they don’t know what the costs are. Could I ask you to formally ask the officers to provide those figures for the small play parks as they relate to Peebles.”

Councillor Bell explained the procedure for members to ask the relevant executive member a question at a meeting of the full council which has to be done five days in advance.

“The officers then have time to respond in order to brief the executive member in regard to it. That’s what I did. I rather suspect that if I ask that question again I’ll get a similar answer.”

He added: “I think it’s great you’ve done a survey and I’m very supportive of the consultation because I think that was one of the gaps in regard to this process, it was launched without a proper introduction and I think that’s regrettable.”.

Community councillor Peter Maudsley said: “It’s my understanding when it was presented to us there were no costs ascertained for the future for the maintenance of the new one.

“Indeed what they said was that the costs of maintaining the new one would be from the savings of the other, so if they haven’t costed the former they can have no idea how they cost the latter looking forward into the future, and I think that’s most unprofessional.”