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Funding for playgrounds needs to be ringfenced

April 1st, 2022 10:10 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Funding for playgrounds needs to be ringfenced Image
Cutting the ribbon at the launch of the newly refurbished playground in Macroom were county mayor Gillian Coughlan and Fionn O’Regan. Cllrs have discussed the possibility of picking one playground each year to upgrade. (Photo: Denis Boyle)

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THERE is a need to have funding set aside for the upgrade and inclusivity adaptation of existing Council owned playgrounds, a councillor has urged.

Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) raised a motion at a recent meeting of the local authority calling for a portion of the Council’s capital budget be set aside each year for these upgrades.

‘Playgrounds are some of our greatest amenities across the county and they are in regular use by families. While there is a funding stream for new playgrounds, it’s not clear if there is one for the upgrade of older and existing playgrounds, some of which are old, outdated and may not be very inclusive for children of mixed abilities,’ said Cllr McGrath.

He welcomed a Council reply which mentioned the possibility of making a provision in the capital budget for this as well using IPB retained earnings to fund risk improvements and upgrade of playgrounds

‘It is only fair, too, that the municipal districts would also have to provide their own funding for this and in our own municipal district we have discussed the possibility of picking one playground each year and trying to work and upgrade that playground.’

Cllr McGrath said the Council should also avail of funding from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, whereby each local authority is restricted to submitting one funding application per annum, whereby typical grants are in the region of €10,000 to €25,000.

Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF), who seconded the motion, said that they recently got an all inclusive upgrade at the  playground in Macroom and said they are delighted with it. ‘It’s one thing to have a new playground but we need to maintain existing ones and make them universal as well,’ said Cllr Moynihan.

Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan (Ind) echoed their sentiments and noted that the playground in Carrigaline was the first one in the county to advance a communication board, which he said is going down very well.

Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said it is hugely important that playgrounds are maintained and fit for purpose going forward and suggested that a rolling fund be set up to allow communities upgrade one piece of equipment each year and to add mixed ability equipment too.

Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) also supported the motion and said that if playgrounds are not done properly then they won’t last the test of time, while Cllr Noel McCarthy (FG) said it is important to stamp out vandalism which has occurred in some playgrounds, where equipment was damaged.

Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Ind), who had previously raised a similar motion, said swapping out a piece of old equipment and replacing it with a new one would not require a big spend.

Council chief executive Tim Lucey said that the Council has a good network of playgrounds throughout the country but acknowledged they do consume quite an amount of funds. He also suggested that the Council should make a case to national government to seek additional funding for upgrading playgrounds.

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