Concerns over play park closure rumour

Scottish Borders Council has refused to quash rumours that the Volunteer play park is to shut as early as July.

Local councillors had been told the kids’ facility was going to close at some point as the route to construct the new bridge over the Teviot will go through the existing play park.

But concerns have been expressed that there are no temporary arrangements in place while the play park is closed. And Councillor Davie Paterson said that if this was the case he would offer his resignation.

Community council chair Marion Short told Monday night’s meeting in the lesser town hall that fellow member, Greg McLeod, who wasn’t at the meeting, had been told by a council employee that the swing park was to be removed in July to allow access for the new bridge.

Mrs Short said she feared that what had happened with the cafe, which she said was taken down too soon, with no thought about a temporary replacement, was about to happen again.

She continued: “We know there’s going to be a new children’s play area on the other side of the river, but is this another circumstance where they [the contractor] are going to remove the one on the Volunteer side, and the other one won’t be put up until the spring of next year.

“And it’s going to end up that there’s going to be no swings
for [months].

Councillor Paterson responded: “No, can I tell you, that won’t be happening. I can assure you, believe me.

“I’m going to be meeting with [local authority] officers because I’ve also heard rumblings about this.

“I’ll hand my resignation in [if there are no alternative arrangements for a play park].”

When pressed by Mrs Short over the July closure rumours, Mr Paterson said: “I certainly haven’t heard this. It’s news to me.”

He said he would seek clarification from the council over the play park’s future and get back to Mrs Short.

Councillor Watson McAteer: “All councillors have been invited to a [stakeholders] meeting with the park project, so we’ll get more clarity when we meet with them. I’ve heard the [July closure] rumour as well, so we need to sort it one way or another.”

Mr McAteer added that if the play park was to close, then they had to think on their feet proactively around some-where like the play area at the leisure centreand get it refurbished.

A local authority spokesperson said the council had agreed with the contractor that the route to construct the new footbridge would be required to go through the existing Volunteer Park play park.

He added: “The dates [for the play park’s closure] haven’t been confirmed yet and will be discussedwith contractor and stakeholder group.

“However, it is worth stating that the closure of the Volunteer play park for a period of time is needed to allow a brand new £300,000 play park to be created in Wilton Lodge
Park.”

The Hawick News understands that items of equipment that were removed from the Volunteer facility will not be replaced due to health and safety and public liability issues of reinstalling second-hand play equipment.

n Meanwhile, it has been announced that the contract to build the new cafe and footbridge has been awarded to Cumbria-based ESH Border Construction, which has a base in Galashiels.

While the cafe works are undertaken, a temporary catering facility near the Elliot Bandstand is expected to open later this month.

SBC has also undertaken the procurement of the new play park that will be located on the former bowling green and is expected to open next spring.