Call for council to review funds for play park after cash transfer

Local people gathered outside the Guildhall to protest over the need for a play park in Strathfoyle.
Local people gathered outside the Guildhall to protest over the need for a play park in Strathfoyle.

Residents in Strathfoyle have called on Derry City Council to review its funding commitment towards a play park in the estate following a recent cash boost from Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.

Paul Hughes from Enagh Youth Forum said they have recently sent all 40 Derry and Strabane councillors a copy of the Strathfoyle Community Plan 2015-2020.

The map for a proposed play park.

The map for a proposed play park.

Mr Hughes said; “Within our community plan, once again the number one need identified by the local community is to secure fixed play park provision. This has been the number one community need in all annual community surveys and audits since 1997. The need is well documented and the project long overdue.

“All local youth, community and women’s groups in the area have formed the Strathfoyle Play Park Consortium supported by RAPID and Colin Kennedy Parks Officer at Council. We have been pro-active in developing plans, securing planning permission etc over the past five years and the project is now shovel ready.”

Mr Hughes detailed how the project suffered a recent setback when CFNI through its ‘Spaces and Places’ Fund rejected the application, a decision which caused shockwaves among residents.

“We as a consortium have since submitted complaints regarding the decision but CFNI have decided to uphold their decision,” he said. “However, giving the recent announcement by Environment Minister Mark H Durkan to provide council with an additional £417,000 of funding, surely council can now increase their contribution to the Play Park Project to bring the much needed facility closer to reality.

“Whilst we recognize that Council have many needs at this time, we at Strathfoyle believe the need for this project is greater and firmly believe that every child has a right to play. We will now be lobbying all councillors to progress this issue and hope that they will be supportive of this as a play park here will make a very real and lasting difference to the 800 plus children who live here.

“It will also go someway to combatting the worst effects of rural isolation and social exclusion.”

A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council said that it remains supportive of developing a new play area for the Strathfoyle area and the work carried out to date by all agencies to secure funding for play park provision in the area.

“The Council will continue to work with the relevant statutory and voluntary agencies to develop plans for play provision,” a spokesperson said.