Parents are furious that a play park in one of the most deprived parts of Lurgan is being run down.
A protest attended by local councillors from the SDLP and Sinn Fein was held on Saturday at Beaumont Square play park in the Shankill area on Saturday.
Parents believe that the play area is slowly being run down by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council and demanded action. Tthe council has given no guarantee to preserve the play area.
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said the play area has been there from 1996 but in recent years has been allowed to degrade, with older children having only two swings.
She claimed council staff are regularly taking play equipment away due to health and safety reasons.
Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Mackle said he was able to allay fears about any imminent closure saying Council are rolling out a five year play strategy with a £4m investment. He said he will be organising a public meeting and hopefully setting up a community group.
A Council spokesperson said: “Council recently launched its first ever innovative Play Strategy, developed by Councillor’s and Officers with the assistance of Playboard. The Strategy sets out a framework/criteria to assist Councillors in making informed decision regarding the provision of ‘play’ across the Borough moving forward.
“As part of the Strategy, an assessment was undertaken. Included within this plan was the recommendation for Beaumont Square Play Area, which noted that there is “duplication of radial coverage within the area with Wakehurst play area. From a demographic perspective the level of demand within the area (0 to 14 year olds) appears to be low. It is recommended that Council undertake a local needs assessment to determine whether sufficient need remains within the area prior to upgrade/potential removal”.
“Council is looking to introduce alternative approaches to play - such as non-fixed play sessions, Community Play Volunteers, Play Pods etc… While the non-fixed element is still in the early stages of development, Council would be more than willing to come out and discuss the potential with appropriate partners in the area.