Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton and Linda Speir, community councillor. Levengrove Park pictures by Michael Moffat.

By Bill Heaney

It’s all very well boasting constantly as the SNP/Green councillors do about Levengrove Park in Dumbarton.

They have nothing to say about the sadly neglected East End Swing Park in Glasgow Road, near the Dumbarton East railway station?

The Swing Park’s neglect was referred to recently in The Democrat by community councillor Linda Speir, who said: “Our town is looking very pretty with all the blossom trees. However, I recently had a walk through East End Park. What a sorry state it’s in. Like many of the grassed areas in the town it has fallen subject to the ridiculous “biodiversity” policy (our town is surrounded by beautiful, natural biodiversity).

“Only the outer border of the lawn has been cut with the remainder of the long grass playing host to dog poo and litter, which isn’t a good look. Meadows and grasslands need to be managed, not just left to look as though no-one cares.

“I hope, after the Council election on 5th May, there will be a rethink on this policy and we may see a return to tidy grassy areas and verges with some pride restored to our town.
“Our lovely Municipal Buildings were even more enhanced when the grounds were full of the colour and beauty that attracted wedding groups to have their photos taken beside the floral borders, that sadly exist no longer.”
Now MSP Jackie Baillie has accused the SNP of selling the next generation short as it emerged more than £365 million of funding has been cut from Scotland’s parks over the last decade.

New analysis has shown that cuts to funding for community parks and open spaces since 2020-11 amount to an astonishing £365,917,000, with spending now almost 40 percent lower than 10 years ago.

This follows controversy over the SNP abandoning their flagship election pledge to renew every playpark in Scotland, which was “revised” down within months.

Scottish Labour pointed out that the SNP’s much-touted pledge to invest £60 million over five years was a drop in the ocean compared to the decade of cuts inflicted on their watch.

In West Dunbartonshire, the previous Labour administration made playparks a priority, investing almost £800,000 in upgrading 14 facilities across the local authority area for youngsters.

This included a massive project to overhaul Levengrove Park. The Labour administration in 2016 successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a £2.8 million grant to improve play facilities as well as restore historic features at the park.

Levengrove Park in full bloom. Picture by Michael Moffat.

It has since been a very popular attraction in Dumbarton for the benefit of both residents and visitors.

Jackie Baillie said: “I am proud that my Scottish Labour colleagues in West Dunbartonshire made playparks a priority when they ran West Dunbartonshire Council and invested in this vital resource for our young people despite brutal cuts to funding from the SNP Government.

“They looked at the budget as a whole and made sure money was being invested appropriately. With the Levengrove Park project, they also successfully applied for external funding to ensure the park has become a real asset to the town which attracts people from afar as well as being a popular place for residents to visit.

“I have spoken out about the severe under-funding to Councils over the 15 years the SNP have been in power and this is yet more clear evidence how this is affecting people in our local area.

“This time last year the SNP were promising to renew every playpark in Scotland, but the ballots had barely finished being counted by the time they ditched this pledge.

“The SNP have shown their disdain for local government time and time again – they cannot be trusted to defend our community.

“Scottish Labour are committed to fighting for a fair deal for local government and investing in parks and green spaces across the country.

“On May 5th vote Scottish Labour to elect a local champion to fight SNP and Tory cuts and stand up for you, your family and your community.”

  • Leaked document shows SNP Government pledge on renewing play parks has been ‘revised’ – Daily Record  £2.8m funding to restore character of historic Dumbarton park | Scottish Construction Now

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