People’s Park play area to remain locked up for at least seven more months and children will be encouraged to use ‘urban beach’ this summer ahead of major refurbishment

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THE locked-up six to twelve-year-olds play park at Ballymena’s People’s Park is likely to stay closed for several months and instead children will be encouraged to use an ‘urban beach’ this summer, it has emerged.

‘Ballymena Daily’ reported in recent days about the annoyance of parents that the play park for older children was closed all winter.

There is still a facility aimed at younger children.

It is is believed the gates at the park for older children may have shut last November.

A Council spokesperson had said it was closed due to health and safety reasons after some wood had rotted.

The spokesperson recently told ‘Ballymena Daily’: “Council is currently securing funding to repair the play area.

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“The play park is hugely popular and we need to ensure it’s safe and fit for purpose.

“Council is committed to working to secure funding to redevelop the play area and hopes it will be back up and running soon.

“We appreciate the public’s patience.”

However, it has now emerged that the play park will be closed for at least seven more months and likely longer, meaning the gates will most likely have been closed for up to a year or more by the time refurbishment work is carried out.

The refurbishment is going to be part of a scheme costing at least £1 million to revamp the park ahead of its 150th anniversary in 2020.

New information has been revealed by Bannside TUV councillor Timothy Gaston.

In a social media post he relayed the following information he was given by the Council.

The correspondence to the councillor said: ‘Thank you for your query regarding People’s Park in Ballymena. The Play Area consists of two sections which are now over 20 years old.

‘The junior area is suitable for those 7 and under and is fully open. The senior play area is suitable for 8 to 12’s but is unfortunately closed due to vandalism and structural rot of the main climbing frame.

‘A People’s Park Concept Plan was brought to Operational Committee in October 2018 and agreed at the November Council meeting. This plan sets out the improvements to the park ahead of its 150th anniversary in 2020.

‘I can confirm that the Economic Appraisal for the redevelopment of People’s Park Play Area has now been completed. This EA has considered five options but the preferred option is a complete refurbishment of the junior and senior play areas, along with equipment to make the park accessible for all.

‘The value of this option is close to £1m and we are now working our way through the final Council approvals to progress this work.

‘However, due to the forthcoming elections and spring/summer almost upon us, the project is unlikely to commence until Autumn 2019 in order to ensure minimal disruption to other park users.

‘Through Peace IV, my officers have secured funding to bring an Urban Beach to People’s Park over the busy summer months.

‘It is envisaged that this will provide much-needed entertainment for children and families in the absence of a fully operational play area,’ the correspondence said.

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