Space to Play campaigners continue fight to have vital parks reinstated

A petition calling on South Lanarkshire Council to give children “Space to Play” has been rejected.

The removal of Hazelhead park in East Kilbride with the approval of the three councillors in the area – but without consultation of the wider community – sparked a backlash from parents.

Campaigners, backed by EK MSP Collette Stevenson, called on the council to reverse park closures made since May 2021 across the area, renew every local play park with the petition garnering over 800 signatures.

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The local authority said the park at Hazelhead was removed due to ongoing vandalism and equipment was dangerous and “beyond repair”.

It committed to discussions with the local community as to whether Hazelhead was reinstated or the Glen Doll park enhanced as previously proposed.

The council has also launched a consultation on all play parks across South Lanarkshire with a share of Scottish Government funding available.

Now community campaigners have written to the council’s chief executive asking for further dialogue about the future of Hazelhead park and to raise a number of concerns about how the issue is being dealt with.

Kirsten Robb from the campaign told Lanarkshire Live: “Children have a right to play and spaces like Hazelhead are important for families, grandparents and local schools.

“The massive community response to the petition highlights the strength of feeling on this and we feel really let down by the lack of dialogue on it.

“Whilst the wider Space to Play campaign has had some success pushing for the reopening of multi-use games areas and fixing up other parks, we believe that play needs to be much higher up the council’s agenda.”

Fellow campaigner, Stephen Black, added: “The promised investment and consultation on parks is welcome but we are also cautious that the results may lead to more park closures when 118 were closed some years ago already.

“We believe that children should be able to play close to their homes rather than having to travel further away for a decent park or greenspace.

“Working with communities, more funding can be found for parks, so every child has a decent space to play.”

Head of facilities, waste and ground services, Alistair McKinnon, said: “The Space to Play petition regarding Hazelhead Park in EK did not meet the necessary criteria.

“However, we are currently consulting on all parks across South Lanarkshire.

“We hope as many people as possible will complete the survey to help us decide as fairly as possible how best to allocate the council’s share of the Scottish Government funding to improve play areas across Scotland.”

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