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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Scarlett Rossborough’s mum urges community to help save park under threat of closure by MEA Council

Larne schoolgirl Scarlett Rossborough who died in a tragic road traffic accident

Larne schoolgirl Scarlett Rossborough who died in a tragic road traffic accident

The mother of Larne schoolgirl Scarlett Rossborough who died in a tragic road traffic accident last August has again appealed to the community for support in a campaign urging 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.

Carolanne is appealing to the community to respond before January 12 to a consultation opened by the council on the future of the Bardic Drive play park.  She is proposing that instead of closing the park, the council restores it and opens a new park, renaming it in her daughter Scarlett’s memory.

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.

The playground at Bardic Drive in Larne's Antiville estate

The playground at Bardic Drive in Larne's Antiville estate

In an online post on social media, Carolanne said:

“It would be heart-warming to see the local children in the community have better facilities to occupy them, all in Scarlett’s memory. I know Scarlett would be absolutely delighted.

“I am strongly against the park closure and would like to propose that the park is restored and kept open in memory of Scarlett Rossborough.

“In the event that the park were to close, children would be forced to travel to Craigyhill to use facilities, crossing a busy road which exposes them to unnecessary risk.

“Antiville is amongst the top 20% of deprived areas in Northern Ireland, increasing the value of the play park remaining open in this area.”

Carolanne also noted 81 new homes have been proposed in the Antiville estate on land at Kintyre Road and Lealies Drive.

She also stated:

"Antiville has a strong local identity and closing facilities would be demoralising for the community. The park is always very busy, its closure would have a negative impact on the local community. Children need to have safe places to play away from traffic.

“The local community feel it is important to keep Scarlett’s memory alive and Scarlett used the Bardic Drive play park on a daily basis. This is an opportunity for local schoolchildren to design a new play park and potentially artwork for the surrounding area to improve the appearance of Antiville as a whole.

“This is an opportunity to add sensory activities in the new play park for children with additional needs, which would be welcomed.”

A petition started by Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke calling for the park to be refurbished and renamed ‘Scarlett’s Park’ has been signed by 1,770 people.

One said: “The park has been there as long as I can remember and a refurb would be a lovely way to remember Scarlett.”

Another said: “This would be a very fitting legacy for Scarlett – keeping her memory alive and maintaining the play park for other children to enjoy.”

“This wee girl deserves to be remembered in a place she was happy,” another commented.

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”.

Meanwhile, Whitehead residents are seeking a meeting with elected representatives over a proposal to close two play parks in the seaside town.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council says both Ransevyn Park and Windsor Park in Whitehead are “reaching end of life status”. It is anticipated both will become grass areas.

In an open letter to councillors on social media, the closure plan has been described by a local representative as “unjust and unacceptable”.

“The feeling in the area is one of outrage and we would like you to join us in trying to preserve the park so that many more generations of children can enjoy the park and its benefits,” the letter said.


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