#parent | #kids | Campaign launched to give kids better access to vital play areas

An East Kilbride campaigner is calling on South Lanarkshire Council to improve and increase children’s access to play areas.

Kirsten Robb, who is a member of the local Green party, has written to SLC’s chief executive, Cleland Sneddon.

Responding to local people’s concerns about a lack of safe spaces for children and young people to play she launched the ‘Space to Play’ campaign to get more areas opened up.

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She is urging SLC to investigate how more Multi Use Games Areas (MUGAs) and school football pitches can be opened up out-with school hours for general use.

Kirsten also wants to see urgent improvements to play parks and better facilities – with some unusable due to missing play equipment or poor surfaces and drainage.

The latest call for action comes after the East Kilbride News lead the ‘Kids Need to Play’ campaign in 2014 which saw an overhaul of the adventure playground in Calderglen Country Park.

Missing swings at a play park in Othello

But Kirsten believes major improvements are still needed.

She told Lanarkshire Live: “With a family myself, I know how important it is for children’s health and well being to have free places to play with their families and friends, now more than ever.

“Yet many of our local parks have been neglected for years and new multi-use games areas, meant for community use, are now locked up.

“The ‘Space to Play’ campaign wants to change this by helping people understand the importance of play and getting more facilities opened up and improved. Working together we can give our kids space to play.”

MUGAs and football pitches next to primary schools are meant to be freely available to local communities out-with school hours, but many of these are now locked up.

A Freedom of Information request to SLC found that MUGAs should be open out-with school hours, unless closed ‘for a period’ for maintenance or vandalism.

Severe flooding at a swing park in Lammermoor

Kirsten was also told that pitches linked to secondary schools, such as those at Calderglen High School, are not available for informal use, as responsibility for them lies with the private owners of the school built under Private Public Partnership (PPP).

The campaigner has also highlighted flooding underneath the swings at Lammermoor play park in Calderwood along with a promised replacement of the large chute after it was removed to build new allotments and missing swings at a park at Othello.

In response SLC said the programme to deal with the flooding and replace the chute at Lammermoor has been delayed but that work will be completed by the end of this month.

Kirsten added: “Many of these MUGAs were built on previously openly available greenspaces but they are now locked away from local people.

“But with many other grass areas waterlogged and unplayable, access to MUGAs is even more important.

“Whilst some of the spaces have been subject to anti-social behaviour in the past, I feel that with primary and secondary schools, communities and agencies working together, we can reopen and improve MUGAs and parks.

“I want to give our kids spaces to play as originally intended and have contacted the council to arrange a meeting to discuss action on these issues further.”

To support the campaign go to the ‘Space to Play’ page.

South Lanarkshire Council were contacted for a statement.

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