Today’s full meeting of East Lothian Council revealed a significant shortfall in the Scottish Government funding provided to East Lothian to meet the SNP election commitment to ‘renew every single play park in Scotland’.
The Council’s new deputy leader Cllr Shamin Akhtar highlighted that the average cost of upgrading a play park is around £60,000 and that the Council is responsible for 120 across the county.
That equates to a total cost of some £7.2 million, but so far only £100,000 has been allocated to East Lothian by SNP ministers.
Even if the same amount is provided each year for the rest of this Parliament, it would still leave a shortfall of £6.7 million in funding to meet the SNP’s national play park pledge in East Lothian.
Cllr Shamin Akhtar said:
“I’ve been working in partnership with local communities, children, parents and carers in my ward to support the upgrade of a number of local parks over recent years and know that funding is always the main stumbling block to making improvements happen.
“The play park renewal pledge was one of the SNP’s headline election promises. It’s already become very clear that Ministers are abandoning it, with refurbishment plans being scaled back. At the current rate of funding it will take decades for the SNP to meet its pledge and most of our communities will not see the promised renewal of their local park anytime soon.”
Cllr Fiona Dugdale, cabinet spokesperson on education and children’s services, said:
“Play parks across Scotland are in desperate need of renewal because of years of brutal SNP cuts to council budgets. The SNP’s election pledge of government funding was only ever about fixing a problem they had created – and now they’re not even doing that.
“£100,000 does not even begin to address the local need for renewing East Lothian’s play parks. Even if we assume similar payments over the next four years, this will still leave the council millions of pounds short of what we need to refurbish all of our play parks. It looks like this SNP pledge to children and young people is in tatters.”
Martin Whitfield MSP added:
“As we collectively recover from Covid, giving children safe, modern and innovative places to play and use their imaginations with friends and family has never been more important. The SNP’s play park renewal pledge could have helped contribute to that aim by restoring the funding they have slashed from local authority budgets.
“However, it looks increasingly like the pledge was just another hollow vote-winning promise which, with insufficient funding allocated, is already starting to fall apart. It means the reality is that far too few communities will see much-needed improvements in their local play parks.”