Offaly’s playground branded dangerous and ‘absolute disgrace’

A parent has strongly criticized the current state of a large playground in Offaly, calling it an “absolute disgrace”.

The concerned parent told the Tribune he had brought the condition of the popular facility on Wilmer Road, Birr to the Council’s attention, but too little had been done.

“In September of last year,” he said, “I emailed several advisers outlining the situation and trying to get it rectified, but as things stand, only minor repairs have been made.

“The playground is an absolute disgrace at the moment and needs urgent attention, to prevent a child from getting seriously injured.

“Our family has been using the playground regularly since it opened and generally enjoy using the facility very much. However, this enjoyment has been greatly diminished in recent months due to the deterioration in the condition of the grounds and the activities themselves.

“The major point I want to draw your attention to is a security issue. The soft environment around many activities gives way, leaving large craters in the ground, which are downright dangerous and will undoubtedly result in the injury of a child (or adult) who falls into one.

“In many cases, pieces of wood are broken or missing, with graffiti (most of it dating back several years) adorning many activities. The metal frames have peeling paint, revealing rusty metal underneath. The bearings are broken in both swings (and have been for at least 2 years) The roundabout activity bearing is broken and wobbles heavily The seat cover of the zipline is falling apart and is too low The rope bridge in the climbing frame unravels and is held together with extra rope and electrical tape. »

Responding to the parent’s concerns, Cllr John Clendennen said he had shared his concerns with the regional engineer and that the engineer was ‘committed to the ongoing maintenance of the space’.

“There is no doubt that the level of maintenance and newly acquired equipment does not currently meet the expected standards, and I will raise this over the next few weeks during our budget negotiations for the coming year, with the intention to propose an increased budget allocation for playgrounds in 2022,” he added.

“Separately, work is currently underway by the Community, Cultural and Emergency Services Strategic Policy Committee of which I am a member, to establish a more streamlined approach to playgrounds across the county, with the aim of providing a safer and more enjoyable experience for all playground users, as Offaly County Council is working with local communities to make it happen.

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Harold B. McConnell