SCHULL playground has been branded a ‘disgrace’ by a local councillor who has said that it has ‘steel bits’ coming up from the ground, and equipment boarded up with sheets of plywood and bags of sand.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) raised a motion at a meeting of the Municipal District of West Cork this week where an official also revealed there’s a problem with vandalism there.
‘I am calling on the Council to immediately find funding to replace the recreational equipment and remove the steel bits from the ground as there are major health and safety issues here,’ said Cllr Collins.
He said it was sad to see the playground – which he played in during his younger days – fall into such disrepair.
‘A number of years ago it was listed as one of the 50 best playgrounds in Ireland by The Irish Times but I’d be afraid if they came back it could be listed as one of the worst.’
He said he has been contacted by numerous people about it and he said he believes that one of the problems is the lack of outdoor Council staff.
‘These things would not happen if there were more Council staff who would be watching issues like this. Our staff are stretched as it is and can’t keep up with all the needs in the area.’
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said he had visited the playground and agreed that ‘it is in dire need of investment.’
‘What was once a very busy playground has gone into disrepair. Schull is a key town in West Cork and all the local community are looking for is an upgrade and investment,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
Senior executive engineer Ruth O’Brien acknowledged to councillors that it is in need of improvements and that designs are being drawn up and they are looking at obtaining funding for this. She also added they have experienced problems with vandalism there too.
‘We did really bad with Clár funding for playgrounds and out of 15 applications only three were successful, Bere Island, Drimoleague and Ahiohill,’ she said.
Cllr Collins said there are three or four pieces of equipment boarded up.
‘I feel if they were maintained all along we wouldn’t be in this situation. I feel that we have no timeline for this and designs will take time as will the funding.’
However, Municipal District officer Justin England said monthly inspections of playgrounds are carried out and the design won’t take long. ‘It’s the funding that’s the problem and while regular repairs are carried out, the equipment has become obsolete,’ he said.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) suggested tapping into Leader funding to access funds but was told that it would have to be community groups who would apply for that type of funding.