Larne schoolgirl Scarlett Rossborough
The mother of Larne schoolgirl Scarlett Rossborough who died in a tragic road traffic accident in August has appealed to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to keep a play park earmarked for closure in her home town open.
Carolanne Rodgers is urging the council to reconsider a proposal to shut the playground at Bardic Drive in the town’s Antiville estate.
The play park is one of a number in Larne, Carrickfergus and Ballymena which are under threat of closure and one in which the council says equipment is “no longer fit for purpose” and would require a “full refurbishment”. The site is likely to become a grass area.
A four-week community consultation is due to commence in December with signage expected to be put in place to advise local users of those facing closure.
In a bid to save the park, Carolanne, together with Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke, is calling on the community to sign an online petition asking the council to refurbish Bardic Drive play park and rename it “Scarlett’s Park”.
Eight-year-old Scarlett who was a pupil of Linn Primary School, died in a single-vehicle traffic collision in Carrickfergus town centre on August 9 which left both towns numb with grief.
Commenting on the petition, Councillor Clarke said:
“Everyone who knew Scarlett speaks of her fun and energy. A play park in her memory seems such a fitting tribute, and one that will benefit the whole community that was so impacted by her passing. It is a privilege to work with the family on this.
“Antiville is a close-knit community, but it is also one with great social need – it is ranked in the top 20% of Northern Ireland’s most deprived areas. Council’s proposal to remove facilities from this area doesn’t sit right at all, and I would urge people to sign the petition to force a rethink.
“This is also a great opportunity to revitalise the green at Bardic Drive creating an inviting community space in the middle of the development. With the recent planning application for 81 additional homes, it is clear that there may well be increased demand for facilities. This is not the time to be removing them.”
“Scarlett was in the park every single week. I think Andrew’s idea is lovely. Scarlett was eight. It is a park for kids, it is a park for children to enjoy and to have fun in.
“Scarlett would love to think there is a park named after her especially right outside her house. It is a really nice thing to do. It is for every child to have a place to go out and play.
“It is in our community. It is for the town, for the local kids. People should be coming together to make sure these facilities are kept. It is a facility that should be utilised and not taken away.”
An independent annual inspection of play parks in March highlighted a number of sites around the borough with “significant issues of concern with regard to health and safety”, the report stated.
Councillors have been warned failure to act could result in “enforced closure in due course due to health and safety concerns”.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council maintains and manages 67 play parks and has spent £3.3m on refurbishments since 2019.
The council has said previously: “The transformation of play parks listed will provide significant financial savings. The play parks identified have ongoing issues for a variety of reasons which result in significant investment each year to ensure safety for users.”
It was also stated “transformation of play parks is only considered when a play park has reached the end of its life and is no longer fit for purpose or safe to use”.
The council says the proposal will be reviewed on completion of the consultation to be followed “if successful” by “closure and removal of equipment to ensure site safety”.