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“Councillors back play areas campaign – an opportunity to use Participatory budgeting?”

A Clydebank mum has told of her hopes that councils across Scotland will work to ensure all outdoor play areas are accessible for all children, following a promise made by West Dunbartonshire councillors.

Claire McCann recently told the Post how she was ‘disgusted’ to find her son Oliver, aged 11 months, who has additional support needs, was unable to use equipment in almost all the area’s parks.

Responding to Claire’s enquiry about accessible swings Oliver could use, a council official said she could access one at Levengrove Park in Dumbarton – a two-hour return trip by bus from her Faifley home. The 31-year-old then launched a petition calling for more accessible play equipment in local parks – and her campaign paid off when it was brought before a full meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council.

A motion was presented by council leader Jonathan McColl committing the authority to doing more to develop and include accessible and appropriate equipment for children across the council area.

All councillors voted in favour of the motion, and outdoor recreational equipment which caters to the needs of all children will be introduced in West Dunbartonshire play parks.

Claire said: “I’m absolutely delighted they have taken this seriously and acted quickly on providing what should have been available already.

“This is a first step in the journey to make sure that all children’s needs are met within all councils across Scotland.I can’t wait for all of us as a family to be able to go and enjoy parks together. Thank you to everyone who has reached out and offered help and support.”

At last week’s council meeting Cllr McColl said: “Given the ongoing pandemic it is more important than ever that we try to provide access to outdoor spaces to everyone regardless of ability. This may be detrimental to some individuals’ mental health and their social life. I only recently saw the campaign started by Claire McCann. I think this is a very important thing for us to do, especially when children can’t socialise with each other within households. I think it is important that we make as much provision as we can to allow kids to meet up outdoors safely. This should not be a box-ticking exercise. There is a real opportunity to create outdoor spaces for people with a range of abilities, including people who might benefit from sensory enhancing equipment.”

Council officers will also be asked to work in partnership with disabled groups in West Dunbartonshire to draw up a draft engagement plan and enhance the process.

Conservative councillor Sally Page said: “I am fully behind this initiative. I think it is great and will have much benefit throughout West Dunbartonshire. There are many sources of funding especially for children’s play parks and I think maybe we could as a council look at the underspend that we’ve got in our participatory budgeting fund, and maybe some of that money could be put towards this.”

All existing play parks will be surveyed, and a report brought back to the appropriate committee.



Article originally appeared on Clydebank Post

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