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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

MEA agree contract worth almost half a million pounds for play park refurbishment

Family playing in Marine Gardens Play Park in Carrickfergus, County Antrim

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has agreed a contract worth almost £0.5m for the refurbishment of the main children’s play park in Carrickfergus.

The council approved the sum of £460k to deliver an upgrade of Marine Gardens Play Park after members were told last summer it could “close within six months without investment” due to equipment that was “not fit for purpose”.

The contract was agreed behind closed doors at last month’s meeting of the borough council following a proposal by Braid DUP Alderman Beth Adger and seconded by Knockagh Alliance Councillor Aaron Skinner.

In 2021, CCTV and security patrols were deployed in the Marine Gardens area following a spate of vandalism attacks which included damage to play equipment.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, said in a statement previously:

“The Marine Gardens Play Park is a testament to council’s commitment to create a vibrant and inclusive community.

“We believe that every child deserves a space where they can freely explore, play and create lasting memories. This new play park will be an amazing site, full of fun and adventure for children of all abilities.

“The play park will feature exciting play equipment – carefully selected to promote physical development, cognitive skills and sensory exploration. From thrilling slides and climbing frames to interactive sensory areas and inclusive swings – the Marine Gardens Play Park will offer a wide range of activities to suit every child’s interest and ability.”

Meanwhile, the council is considering a closure plan for 12 play parks across the district due to maintenance costs.

An independent annual inspection of Mid and East Antrim play parks last March highlighted a number of sites around the borough with “significant issues of concern with regard to health and safety”, a report to councillors stated.

They 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 play parks identified have ongoing issues for a variety of reasons which result in significant investment each year to ensure safety for users.”

The council has also indicated the proposal will be reviewed on completion of a consultation and “if successful” by “closure and removal of equipment to ensure site safety”.

At the same meeting, a contract worth £154k was agreed for the development of a 2.6 kilometre Bracknamuckley Trail in Portglenone. This will involve the upgrade of existing Forest Service Northern Ireland access trails for cyclists and walkers.

This project will be followed by plans to be drawn up for Woodburn and Glenarm Forests and a “masterplan” for Ballyboley at a cost of £100k.


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