VOLUNTEERS in towns and villages are being asked by Scottish Borders Council to take over the maintenance of closure-threatened play parks.

More than a quarter of the region's play facilities are set to be culled to help pay for new, larger facilities.

But the announcement last month has caused shock and anger - with several petitions being organised to fight the plans.

Under-fire council bosses have now launched a public consultation and are inviting communities for their opinions as well the opportunity to take over the maintenance of their play parks.

A spokesperson said: "The council is open to communities taking over maintenance of any play areas which are being proposed for closure and would encourage these groups to contact the local authority before August 19 if interested."

Throughout June, the council's decision to decommission smaller play facilities around the region was discussed locally at each of the five area partnerships.

The report detailed plans to remove play equipment from sites deemed low value, obsolete or largely surplus to community requirements.

The move follows Scottish Borders Council agreeing to a £5 million investment into the region's play parks last May.

So far, new facilities at Galashiels, Oxton, Stow, and Harestanes have all opened.

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Locality Services, said: "We believe we are investing in improving the right facilities in the right places but welcome further feedback on the proposals before a final decision is taken."

He added: “We would encourage anyone who could not attend or have not provided their views yet to do so. That would include any groups who maybe keen to take on a play park site.

And SBC leader Shona Haslam claims that the investment is "providing modern, inclusive and fantastic play parks and outdoor spaces for our communities which will help a generation of children to get outside and active".

She said: "By reducing our overall number of play parks, but still retaining more than the national average, we can make sure our remaining facilities are maintained to the highest standard."

Feedback can be given at www.scotborders.gov.uk/playparks until Monday, August 19.