Council set to start reopening play parks from this week

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The Highland Council is planning to reopen play areas across the region throughout summer.

Advice was provided by the Scottish Government at the end of last month as to the safety measures that should be applied.

The council has 436 play spaces of which 336 are equipped play areas with 2011 individual items of play equipment.

Since the lockdown, these play parks have been closed and have not been inspected, or had any maintenance work carried out.

Before reopening, all council play parks have to be in a safe and serviceable condition. To do this a full inspection and maintenance programme must be carried out.

The council said this is a significant undertaking and will take time, so needs to be done in a phased, prioritised manner due to staff shortages.

The council said it expects to begin opening sites from this week onwards and its website will be updated next week with the list of the sites reopening first across the region.

All park users are asked to use the facilities safely, observe social distancing, apply enhanced hygiene and to keep the parks tidy by taking their litter home with them.

The council’s Amenities Service is operating at a much-reduced capacity with less than 50 percent staff compared to previous years.

Many communities have supported the service during the pandemic with grass cutting, strimming and generally maintaining sites in their areas.

‘We would like to encourage community volunteers to assist us with the grass cutting in play areas, as long as they have carried out a risk assessment and adhere to social distancing,’ added the council today (Monday).

Councillor Allan Henderson (Caol and Mallaig), chairman of the Communities and Place Committee, said: ‘We are very pleased to be able to begin a phased reopening of Highland Council play parks from today.  This will be a gradual process as the council has to ensure that checks and safety inspections of the play equipment and infrastructure are carried out within the available staffing levels of the council.

Councillor Allan Henderson. NO-F40-Allan-Henderson
Councillor Allan Henderson.

‘We ask everyone to bear with us as not all play parks can reopen at the same time and signage will be erected indicating whether they are safe to use.’

The local authority added that people must continue to take responsibility for themselves while using the play parks and do so at their own risk, and must follow government guidelines on social distancing.

Signage will also be erected at all play parks to remind people to wash their hands and or use sanitiser as appropriate.