Council claim local parks, open spaces and playgrounds are ‘excellent’

Levengrove Park in Dumbarton is in recovery mode following the SNP decision to halt planting after a major outcry from the local public. Pictures by Bill Heaney 

By Bill Heaney

Following their disastrous budget decision to stop grass cutting and “go bio” in many areas, West Dunbartonshire Council’s SNP administration claims to have made significant improvements to the area’s open spaces over the past eight years.

In an effort to correct the impression that the area is going to the dogs and possibly too hoping that the public have short memories, the Council have issued a statement trumpeting their environmental success.

It states: “Works including pathway resurfacing to ensure easy access, new trees being planted and the introduction of upgraded play areas have all taken place in a bid to make the areas better for residents.”

The improvements claimed by the council were funded through the Council’s Community Environmental Improvement Fund (£2million) and the Community Capital Fund (£3million), and assisted by grants from organisations including the Heritage Lottery Fund, which donated £3.4million, and Sportscotland, which contributed £1.2million.

Further planned upgrades are detailed in the Asset Plan which has been relayed to a meeting of the Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development Committee.

They include introducing car parking, toilets – a recent survey revealed there were only two public toilets in the whole of West Dunbartonshire –  play opportunities and nature areas to urban parks as standard.

And, while trees in some areas including Drumkinnon Bay at Balloch, Loch Lomondside, are being clandestinely destroyed, semi-natural sites like woodlands will be developed to promote creative and wild play.

The action plan also details proposals for three new community growing sites, each of at least 0.66 hectares, and identifying a new cemetery site in the Vale of Leven, plus an extension to Kilmaronock Cemetery.

The report showed that last year, 161 open spaces – including parks, children’s playgrounds and cemeteries – were deemed to be of an excellent standard.

McLaren Clr IainCouncillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, pictured left, said: “West Dunbartonshire has some of the most beautiful outdoor spots in Scotland and as a Council we work hard to ensure these spaces best serve our residents.

“There has been a lot of work in the past eight years and, as this report shows, we have a firm plan of more changes taking place across our open spaces to improve them even further.”

Councillor Marie McNair, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, added: “Having access to outdoor space is vital to our residents’ health and well-being so I’m delighted to see so much work going into ensuring there are constant improvements taking place.”

No reference has been made to the disastrous decision to stop grass cutting in cemeteries, public parks and open spaces.

Neither the SNP nor the Council would agree to answer questions from The Democrat.

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