As a Council we’re faced with lots of big decisions on complex issues – but often it is those that are easy to make that have the biggest impact.
The decision to invest in Aberdeen’s playparks is a great example of that. It has been a feature of our last two budgets and the results are really beginning to pay dividends.
Over 2017/18 and the current financial year more than £1.6million will be used to transform sites throughout the city. Having seen at first hand the difference it is making in our communities, it is safe to say that is money very well spent.
Of course, allocating that amount of funding is always the subject of careful consideration but the plans are integral to the wider commitment to young people and the recognition of the importance of play and an active lifestyle from the earliest age.
I had the pleasure of visiting St Fittick’s Skate Park in Torry last week to see the new facilities there being put to the test by local children and coaches from Transition Extreme. That upgrade has changed the park beyond all recognition and from speaking to the young people and their parents it really has made a massive impact – it is being used morning, noon and night.
That project is slightly different from the norm as we received a significant and very welcome grant from the SUEZ Community Trust, which met £50,000 of the £71,000 cost. A great piece of partnership working.
In terms of the programme solely funded by the Council, there is great progress being made – the skate park at Cults is already open, the new £158,000 facility at Westburn Park is well on its way to completion.
Playparks at Colthill Road and the Meadows in Milltimber have been added to those that are complete and opened whilst Catto Park in Cove and Stewart Park in Middlefield will soon join the long list of upgraded areas completed in the past year.
In the year ahead a further 13 parks will be transformed in areas including Seaton, Powis, the Gallowgate, Rosemount, Bridge of Don and Danestone, Dyce and Bucksburn, Ferryhill, Northfield and Kingswells.
On a wider level, the Aberdeen City Council Play Policy and Strategy was approved earlier this year as part of the Year of Young People celebrations and that will be formally launched on Thursday (June 21) at Westburn Park.
Like me, I’m sure you have great memories of playing outdoors as a child. For us it was about exploring, having fun and spending time with friends.
We didn’t appreciate it at the time but that was so important physically, mentally and socially.
Every child in every community deserves the best possible start in life – safe, welcoming and engaging play areas have a massive part to play in that for Aberdeen’s next generation. I’m proud to see the investment in our future already paying off.
Cllr Jenny Laing