Park upgrade appeal ‘in writing’

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More than 70 letters calling for improved play facilities in ‘the twin villages’ have been hand delivered to the Mayor of Mid & East Antrim.

Children from the Kells & Connor area presented Cllr Billy Ashe with 74 letters from local residents requesting an upgrade to the village play park last week.

The Mayor had travelled to ‘the twin villages’ to meet with DUP MLA Paul Frew and local Councillor William McCaughey for the second time to discuss a play park strategy for the borough.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Frew said: “I have been communicating with residents of Kells & Connor for some number of years now on trying to achieve an upgrade to their play park. Like other areas in the borough we handed in a petition last year to urge Council to step up when it came to play parks and make some of them more adventurous. Given the size of Kells and Connor villages this area should be part of any strategy going forward”

Cllr McCaughey added: “Last year when we ran the petition we had a great response in the villages so we decided to keep the pressure up and encouraged people to write letters to the CEO of Council urging the body to put in place a strategy with a meaningful budget so that areas like this would get a decent play park for the large population.

“We have managed to collect 74 letters to date with many more due,” he said.

Also speaking after the talks, Mayor Ashe told The Times: “It was good to continue with our series of meetings on the issue of playparks.

“Paul has fought a mighty campaign to deliver better facilities for the young people of the borough which is starting to bear fruit in the form of a Play Park Strategy in Council. He started this work before he left Council and has continued to influence the debate on this,” he added.

Cllr Ashe said he had subsequently requested that the written requests received from villagers be listed on the agenda of the September monthly meeting of Council.

Councillors agreed back in May to develop a Play Strategy “which would take account of existing play facilities, inform future development and animate play areas to create more dynamic play opportunities”.

Of the 62 formal play parks across Mid & East Antrim, 37 are in Ballymena, five in Carrick and 20 in Larne.