Clare County Council has announced a €50,000 support scheme place to assist communities in maintaining and operating playgrounds throughout the County.
The two-year scheme has been unanimously adopted by Elected Members at the October Monthly Meeting of Clare County Council.
The Local Authority has operated a successful community partnership model to help secure the delivery of 29 playgrounds throughout the county in recent years leading to a combined investment in recreational facilities of €2.18 million.
Cllr. John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council described the comprehensive network of community playgrounds in Clare as “a wonderful example of what can be achieved when the community and local authority works together”.
He added: “The Council is committed to developing positive working relationship into the future with the result that together we are building more sustainable communities. I would like to congratulate the community groups on what they are achieving by developing community playgrounds throughout the county especially as they are working on a voluntary basis. It is important that they are supported locally in conjunction with Clare County Council in covering the costs associated with their maintenance and operation.”
Commenting on the background to the newly announced maintenance support scheme, Gerard Dollard, Director of Services explained: “A variety of different structures such as community groups, limited companies, co-operatives are in place to manage the 29 playgrounds throughout Clare, many of which have been in operation for a number of years. This is in line with the original model whereby the Council was involved in the capital costs of providing the facility with the ongoing revenue and operational arrangements being handled at community level.”
“Issues are now beginning to arise in relation to the management and maintenance costs associated with these playgrounds, particularly relating to insurance, company audits, surveys and inspections, as well as general maintenance. The €50,000 support scheme that has been unanimously approved by the Council will help with these costs,” stated Mr. Dollard.
Cllr. Cathal Crowe commented: “Since their initial construction and development many communities that administer local playgrounds project have struggled to cover running costs. Typically it costs a community somewhere between €2,000 to €3,000 per annum to provide for insurance cover, financial auditing, safety assessments and routine maintenance works. These groups rely heavily on fundraising and the goodwill of their local communities and have been crying out for a Council grant scheme to help them defray costs.
“The new grant scheme will help greatly to meet the short-term needs of playground committees. If every playground group (29 in total) were to apply for the new grant they would each receive a payment of approximately €1,700. Going forward I think it’s vital that the Council re-instate a capital grants scheme to find the provision of more new playgrounds and more modern equipment. The population of parts of South-East Clare has mushroomed in recent years yet there is an acute shortage of facilities for the children that populate these communities,” concluded Cllr. Crowe.
Further information is available from the Community & Tourism Department of Clare County Council on 065-6821616.