Play parks to be more accessible

Mid Ulster District Council is seeking to increase the amount of wheelchair friendly play equipment at its play parks.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 9:59 am

The issue was raised by Council’s Chair, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan at Council’s monthly meeting in March.

Addressing the chamber, the Chair told of how he had been made aware of a lack of wheelchair accessible play equipment in the district and expressed his desire to ensure these facilities are provided for the district’s residents.

“I have spoken to the director in terms of how we change this,” he said.

“There are four procurement processes going on at the minute in terms of play equipment and I am proposing we ensure this new equipment that is required can be installed as part of this procurement process going forward.”

The proposal was seconded by his party colleague Councillor Phelim Gildernew.

Councillor Barry Monteith said the issue had been raised a number of years ago during a public meeting at Dungannon Park and expressed his support for the proposal.

“Anything we can do I think we should,” he said. “We need to get our heads around this and get serious about.

“It is a very niche market but a vital market, these folk are just entitled to access services and facilities as anyone else.”

Councillor Niamh Doris said she “fully agreed” with the proposal and noted that some inclusive play equipment was installed in parks across the district as part of Council’s village renewal scheme.

Without seeking to “labour the point”, Councillor Paul McLean said he had been contacted by a few local groups about the issue.

“I am waiting on information coming from the groups that I intend to present to Council,” he said.

“I am happy we progress with this proposal and when the information comes, I will pass it on to relevant officers.”

Councillor Christine McFlynn said she agreed “with everything that has been said”.

Councillor Derek McKinney added his support for the proposal and asked if Council policy would need to be updated to ensure these facilities are installed in any future alterations to local play parks.

His party colleague, Councillor Trevor Wilson welcomed the proposal but said it would also be important to check accessible equipment currently installed in local parks.

“We have a situation at the Fairhill where there are some accessible play facilities that can be used. However, they are not always working.

“It might be an idea as we are rolling this out to other parks to check on the equipment we have in our parks at present as well.”

Councillor Frances Burton said it was her hope that these facilities would be added to parks in the rural areas as well.

“I would hope going forward if we can get more disabled friendly or wheelchair user friendly swings in our parks that they would also be included in some of the rural areas,” said Cllr Burton.

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