Lewis playpark gets almost £100k from islands health fund

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Sensory and disabled friendly play equipment is to be installed at Newmarket Playpark on the Isle of Lewis.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Community Learning and Development service, working in partnership with the playpark, has secured £97,470.64 through the Healthy Islands Fund to provide the upgrade.

The partnership also secured funding through the Crown Estate and Community Landfill Scotland to buy an eco-friendly toilet and complete the community path from Newmarket Playpark to Tong. Work on the path is almost finished.

In 2018, a survey of the Western Isles revealed Stornoway North, the area Newmarket Playpark sits in, as having poorer outcomes for individuals and families coupled with social and economic issues.

Following the survey, a group was formed in Stornoway North to draw up a plan to look at community issues.

As a result, the park committee started to source funding to start upgrading and replacing equipment.

The increase in population around the playpark, planning permission being granted for more social housing, coupled with the popularity of the area to visitors and residents has resulted in a need to ensure all playpark equipment is fit for purpose.

Roddie Mackay, comhairle leader, said: ‘At a time when the global pandemic and restrictions have impacted on our communities both mentally and physically, it is even more important to provide safe accessible outdoor areas for children, families and individuals to enjoy.

‘Congratulations to everyone who have got us this far in this exciting project.’

Murray Macleod, chairman of Newmarket Playpark, added: ‘Securing this funding is great news but now the hard work really begins.

‘It has been one of our main goals to make the park accessible to everyone and with the completion of the community path connecting the Newmarket and Tong communities, and the addition of toilets, we hope to encourage more visitors to the park.

‘This would not have been possible without the hard work of our volunteers and we are grateful to everyone involved in this project.’

The area is currently used by a range of the community including senior citizens making use of the pathway for regular exercise, walkers out on the recommendation of their doctor, disabled users, parents and visitors to the Newmarket garden and play area, schools, nurseries and youth groups.