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Highland Council has been accused of allowing play parks in Kinlochleven to fall into such a state of disrepair that they are almost unusable just a few weeks before local youngsters break up for the summer holidays.
A small fence has been erected to try to prevent animals venturing into the play parks – the lack of people and traffic during lockdown has seen more deer venturing into the village – while the council removed a climbing frame on safety grounds but without allegedly notifying local residents.
Long-term resident Mark Macgregor says he has frequently made two-hour car trips in order to let his two children visit useable play parks because he says the Kinlochleven ones are in such a poor state.
‘What on earth is actually happening with the Highland Council and this village? The place is a disgrace and Kinlochleven has two so-called parks and both of them are in need of repair and renewal.
‘The park on Leven Road/Park Road had its main play area demolished and now its not going to be renewed. Why? The park is also disgusting, muddy, paint flaking off, a broken bench and no bins, so rubbish everywhere.
‘The youngsters in this village cannot have any fun without possible injury with the state of these so-called parks. They are in desperate need of a clean and a paint.
‘And the park at Wades Road/Lovat Road is actually pathetic to be honest. A sign stating ‘Park Open and Play Safe’ is awful and the Highland Council should be embarrassed having that in place.
‘Do they not care that our children are missing out of being young, having fun outdoors or even socialising and interacting with others outside of their own family or group?
‘Highland Council has promised so much over the years and in my mind have failed again and again. Play parks can promote health, help with illness and help mental health issues also, especially after the last year that we’ve all had.’
And Mr Macgregor said he would no longer let his children use the village’s play parks: ‘I will not take my kids to the play parks anymore in the fear they will get hurt due to the horrid state the Highland Council has allowed them to get into. They don’t even clean the parks or keep the grass cut anymore.’
Local Fort William and Ardnamurchan ward councillor, Andrew Baxter, said the problems were partly due to the deer problem – deer have been venturing into the village during lockdown – and also to the council removing the climbing frame from one of the parks without prior notice due to safety concerns.
‘They had no plan for any replacement. So I am working to try and get council funding for erection of a higher deer proof fence and new equipment,’ Mr Baxter told us.
And he added: ‘In a debate in March, when the council announced it had a significant year-end surplus I argued that we should set aside £1 million to improve our play parks including new equipment.
‘The council administration dismissed this instead putting the money into reserves. The budget that they set aside for even routine maintenance is miniscule.’
Asked to comment, a Highland Council spokesperson told us on Tuesday afternoon that the Park Road play area would have works completed by the end of this week.
‘We are removing stumps and making safe the surface following removal of a large climbing frame. A site visit is being carried out to the other play area in Kinlochleven this afternoon,’ added the spokesperson.