Insurance costs could put Leitrim rural playground project on hold

A community group faces the possibility of abandoning a children’s playground project because it is unable to fund annual insurance costs.
Cllr Ita Reynolds-Flynn said this at this week’s Council meeting. despite securing €62,000 from LEADER for the provision of a playground in Gortletteragh, the local community group faces a substantial annual insurance bill that it cannot fund.
The issue had previously been raised with Council and management intervened after the community group behind the playground project was unable to obtain insurance in the private market.
Although an insurer has been found with the help of the Council, the annual insurance costs, including regular inspections of the equipment, are in the region of €4,000.
“It’s not doable. It really broke the spirit of the group,” admitted Cllr Reynolds-Flynn.
“Parents will not pay for children to go to the playground and there is no way we can afford to pay for this insurance as a community group,” she said.
Cllr Sean McGowan agreed the situation was ‘not fair’ asking that the Board reconsider the matter ‘and come up with a scheme to cover the insurance’.
This was backed up by Cllr Enda Stenson who said: “I know small communities are under pressure across the county. Obviously, insurance is a big deal. But has there been a precedent here (about the Council paying the insurance) or are we afraid to create a precedent? ” He asked.
Cllr Ellis also backed the call for Council intervention noting “we should do all we can to support them and ensure it for them”.
Cllr Felim Gurn highlighted the frustration of “asking communities to apply for funding for projects and then they can’t get insurance to continue”.
“It’s so disappointing for this community,” admitted Cllr Thomas Mulligan.
Cathaoirleach Cllr Paddy O’Rourke has acknowledged how ‘incredibly difficult’ it is for community group volunteers to be ‘arrested at the eleventh hour’ due to insurance costs.
Cllr Brendan Barry suggested that the Council take over the playing field and become the ‘umbrella group’ which would then become responsible for covering the cost of insurance.
Cllr Paddy Farrell also backed calls for the Council to cover insurance costs.
However, Leitrim County Council chief executive Lar Power warned against such a move.
“Everyone appreciates the difficulties faced by community groups,” he said.
He said part of the LEADER funding process is for groups to show they can get insurance, acknowledging that this has been the difficulty for Gortletteragh. However, he pointed out that Leitrim County Council had “no provision” to foot the bill for community infrastructure insurance.
“(You councilors) can put it in (next year’s budget) but then you have to ask if we have to cover the costs of community centres, pitches and GAA playgrounds. We should adopt a policy change to ensure such things and then you have to consider what the cost will be,” he warned, asking “where do you draw the line between what is funded and what is not. not ?
It was also noted that this would not be a one-time cost, but for the lifetime of the infrastructure, requiring an annual budget allocation that would need to be redirected from other budget areas.
Services manager Mary Quinn pointed out that the council maintains a number of playgrounds in the county, but these are those developed by the local authority.
“For community playgrounds, the responsibility to insure them rests with the community group that owns the playground,” she noted.
She noted that costs for these groups were in the range of €2,500 to €4,000 in the private insurance market, adding “it’s a bigger issue than just with Leitrim”.
However, Cllr Stenson asked for the matter to be revisited before next year’s budget meeting, a call backed by Cllr Justin Warnock who said it was important to support community groups as they had no income at all. past two years, but still had to pay. operating costs.
Cllr Mary Bohan agreed the matter should be investigated, but stressed the importance of not giving community groups “false hope” that there will be money in next year’s budget for them.
In the meantime, Cllr Reynolds-Flynn said the Gortletteragh Group behind the Playground will be contacting LEADER to request an extension to the project.

Harold B. McConnell