Call for play park upgrade

Call for play park upgrade

21 August 2019

MOTHERS in Ballynahinch are demanding that immediate improvements are made to the play park in Hillfoot Crescent.

The women claim that due to vandalism and a lack of maintenance, the play facility is in dire need of an upgrade and is not fit for purpose to serve the needs of local children.

The members of Hillfoot Crescent and Windmill Residents Association also say that the play facility is long overdue for some general weed tidying up by Newry, Mourne and Down Council which is responsible for it.

A large group of women and children held an open meeting at the park last Thursday and invited local councillors to attend to see at first hand the poor state the park has declined into.

Rowallane councillor Terry Andrews told the mothers, grandmothers and children that Hillfoot Crescent was one of three local parks due to be upgraded by the council within the next two years.

However, while Ursula Jess, secretary of Hillfoot Crescent and Windmill Residents Association, welcomed the news, she said that the association would still be pressing for some interim improvements.

“It’s good to hear that a new play facility upgrade is supposed to be in the pipeline but we need something done between now and then,” she said.

“We urgently need it upgraded as there’s no summer seats and parents and minders either have to stand or sit on the grass to keep an eye on the children and it’s not good enough. The seats were burnt one by one years ago and never replaced so if we were to get summer seats between now and the upgrade, it would be helpful.”

Mrs Jess said that Hillfoot Crescent got a Lottery grant in the late 1990s to install the park and over the years broken equipment has not been replaced.

She added: “It’s a massive park with a lot of potential. We still have some tyre swings, a climbing frame, a slide and baby swings. There used to be a basket ball hoop but that is away now. 

“It’s all been down to vandalism and general wear and tear. When the little elephant rockers were broken, the council just came and took them away but they weren’t replaced.”

She said that the play area’s summer seats were only replaced on one occasion after local vandals burnt them and had have not been replaced for years.

Mrs Jess said that the community has done its best to keep the play park safe by sweeping away any broken glass and rubbish and  have raised money for equipment in the past. 

The play facility caters for a large numbers of families at Millbank Grove  Windmill Gardens, Windmill Drive, Windmill View, Carlisle Park and further afield, added Mrs Jess.

Cllr Andrews said that he welcomed the residents’ invitation to come along and to find out about the play facility.

He said: “The play facility at Hillfoot Crescent serves a big catchment area with new developments being built in recent years.

“I was very impressed by the excellent turnout of parents, neighbours and children to convey their frustrations, worries and concerns about the condition of the existing playground here and the sense of being forgotten about.

“They are calling for an upgrade to state of the art play parks that others in the Rowallane District Electoral Area (DEA) have been supplied with in recent times.

“I was able to tell them that Hillfoot Crescent  is included in the line-up for an upgrade to new state of the art equipment.

“I will be lobbying and supporting this call at council level for this much-needed new play park to go ahead speedily along with those for Darragh Cross and Kilmore.”

The councillor said the council will encourage local residents and children to have their say and input into the new playground.”

He was presented with a heart-felt plea from the children for their park to be improved which was written as a poem and presented to him.

It read: “Our park is dying, it’s so sad, No one cares that it looks so bad.

A lick of paint a bench or two, A modern slide area all overdue, So come on Council what do you say? Help us out and let us play.”