GOVERNMENT funding for play parks presents “significant” challenges for Scottish Borders Council (SBC), a meeting has heard.

An initial £5 million from the Scottish Government will be split between each local authority in Scotland – with the region receiving £113,000.

However, an “extremely tight timeline” in which to spend the money will cause the council challenges, according to Tweeddale East member Robin Tatler.

During the open questions section of a full council meeting on Thursday (September 23), the independent representative said: “The offer is conditional on the investment having been delivered by March 2022.

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“While this funding is hugely welcome, the challenges it presents to the council and the play park manufacturing industry are significant.

“Suppliers are advising a minimum of 20 weeks from placing an order to having equipment produced and ready for installation.

“Installation for £113,000 could take four weeks.

“There are 26 and a half weeks until the end of March 2022 so this is an extremely tight timeline.”

Mr Tatler added that SBC would “assess priorities in communities by contacting members to confirm ward-level priorities for investments”.

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In May 2018 the council began a consultation on the possible closure of 74 small play parks across the region.

Following opposition from communities, 18 facilities were spared the axe – with the remaining 56 decommissioned.

Responding to Mr Tatler, Tweeddale West councillor Heather Anderson, of the SNP, said: “£60 million over five years is the announcement and this is the first instalment.

“The concern here is there will be a lot of community interest in restoring and reinvesting in some of the small parks.

“I want to be assured there will be a comprehensive plan in how we involve those communities in making sure we spend the money with their involvement over the next four years.

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“It’s a big sum of money, we know it’s coming. We need to have a good plan to make sure we work with the community groups to invest in the small parks that they wanted to keep open in the first place.”

Council convener David Parker told the meeting that he “doubts there will be any council that can get it spent” in time for the March deadline.

On the funding, the independent Leaderdale and Melrose councillor added: “Just to put that into some context, £113,000 is one and a half small play parks or 10 items of equipment.

“It may sound like a lot of money but in play park terms it’s a relatively small amount of money and certainly it’s going to be incredibly difficult to spend it by March 31 – given the challenges the industry currently has in relation to material shortages and equipment stock levels.”