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Source: Scotland – Highland Council

The Highland Council is planning to re-open play areas across the region throughout summer. Advice was provided by the Scottish Government on 28 June 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, this is a significant undertaking, and will take time, so needs to be done in a phased, prioritised manner due to staff shortages. 

This phased approach focuses initially on:

  • high quality destination sites;
  • locations wherein social distancing is possible; and
  • new or recently refurbished sites requiring minimum input. 

During this process, the play parks will be signed advising whether they are open or closed.  Additional signage will be provided in relation to COVID guidance.

We expect to begin opening sites from this week onwards and the Council’s website will be updated with the list of the sites re-opening first across the region at https://www.highland.gov.uk/playareas This web page will be updated as sites are reopened. 

We ask all park users 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% 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.  

Cllr Allan Henderson, Chair of the Communities and Place Committee said: “We are receiving a lot of guidance about the phased reintroduction of services and activities.    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. 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.”

Chair of the Highland Council’s Recovery Board, Cllr Alasdair Christie added: “This will be great news for families to be able to get their children out to play in their local communities – but we have to ensure that it is as safe as possible for them to do so. Therefore, all work will be carried out in adherence to the national guidelines, and with strict social distancing measures in place.”

People must continue to take responsibility for themselves while using the play parks and do so at their own risk, following 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.

Highland Council thanks everyone for their patience and understanding during this time.

MIL OSI United Kingdom