CALLS have been made for the cost of removing equipment from small play parks in Peebles to be made public following concerns that Scottish Borders Council could be “wasting” local taxpayers’ money.

A further plea was also made to people in the town to save the parks, which are to be decommissioned in order to pay the maintenance costs of the new destination play park in Victoria Park.

The decision to close six small parks around Peebles has sparked controversy.

Members of the town’s community council say they are “utterly supportive” of the new play park, but their consultation overwhelmingly revealed that locals want to keep the small parks.

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Last month they were told that the small parks would be repurposed and heard of plans for a natural play park, developed by Borders Woodland Trust, and a small wheels park.

There was a disagreement between Tweeddale councillors and members of the community council regarding the number of small parks set to close.

Addressing the matter this month, community council chairman Les Turnbull said: “There was a conversation about the small playparks and I said we were going to lose all the small play parks apart from one. Of course I was referring to the small playparks that were under consideration by Scottish Borders Council, and you will recall that two councillors in particular were most adamant that what I said was not in

fact correct.

“Well what I said was correct – the play parks under threat are Kingsway, Provost Melrose Place, Kingsland Square, Crossburn Farm Road, Glen Crescent junior, and the small play park behind the hedge in Hay Lodge Park. Eliot’s Park is not going to be decommissioned, the other six are.”

Tweeddale councillor Heather Anderson said that at an Area Partnership meeting, elected members were given the list of parks to be decommissioned, adding that it was presented as a proposal that was going to be passed ‘on the nod’.

She revealed that officers hadn’t allowed a maintenance budget for the new destination play park which is the reason behind decommissioning the small parks.

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Ms Anderson also told the meeting that the costs of maintenance and removal were challenged by councillors and they “didn’t get any satisfactory answers”.

Mr Turnbull said he wrote to Scottish Borders Council about the associated costs and failed to get an answer. It was suggested that the closures should be halted until costs are produced.

Community councillor Peter Maudsley said: “I would’ve thought that there should’ve been a proper cost/benefit analysis because in taking away equipment from play parks there is a considerable cost.

“The actual ongoing maintenance of the play parks is probably quite small, so someone somewhere should’ve done a cost/benefit analysis, and I think we should see it. There should be a moratorium on the closures until they produce the cost/benefit analysis because they might be very well wasting the ratepayers’ money.”

Ms Anderson said it was “pursued vigorously”, adding: “We didn’t manage to get the decision overturned.”

It is hoped that a group in the town will come forward and take on the responsibility for the six play parks under threat.

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Mr Turnbull added: “There has been a lack of consultation and what’s alarming is we, the community council, did do a consultation, we had over 300 responses which I think is quite significant, and most people wanted to see these small play parks retained. Again I appeal to the people of Peebles, if there is a group willing to take over these play parks under threat then the community council will help as far as we can to try and keep and maintain them.”

“If not, I’ve had a conversation with councillor Tatler and asked him to ensure that before

any decommissioning is done on these small play parks, that there is a wider consultation with us in the community to work out what’s going to be best for those actual areas.”

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