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Call for Highlands' play park improvement fund to be reinstated

By Gavin Musgrove

Calls are being made for the Independent, Lib Dem and Labour ruling coalition to bring back Highland Council’s playpark fund.

The motion which will go before Inverness chambers on Monday was lodged by the SNP’s Opposition Leader, Councillor Maxine Smith and Tain and Easter Ross, Councillor Derek Louden.

Councillor Maxine Smith has lodged the motion along with fellow councillor Derek Louden.
Councillor Maxine Smith has lodged the motion along with fellow councillor Derek Louden.

In their motion they underline the importance of outdoor play for youngsters, citing their need to expel energy, be more physically creative, exercise, gain vitamin D, as well as learning to push their boundaries and take risks.

All of this, they say, is missing from indoor console game playing as none of it is real.

Councillor Smith said: "I note that the Administration are saying they cannot afford to reinstate the playpark budget as they needed to make the savings, but I say they cannot afford not to.

"This isn’t about a monetary struggle it’s about the wellbeing of our children and grandchildren who are the Highlands' future workforce.

She added: "In slashing the budget they’ve effectively created a two-tier system whereby new private or new social housing estates have brand new state of the art playparks as part of planning gain, which are maintained under new service contracts that the new owners or tenants have to pay for, but in all the older council housing estates the playparks are dying and are having equipment removed and not replaced.

"This is substantially harming those children that need it most and it’s often bigger families that suffer with nowhere for their children to play or congregate. This in turn can lead to anti-social behaviour and is wrong on so many levels."

The motion will be debated in the next full council on Monday.

The SNP are calling for £10,000 for each of the 21 wards over a five year period to reinstate Highland Council estate playparks.

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