No money to make play areas disability-friendly

No money to make play areas disability-friendly
The children's playground in Blarney, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

CORK County Council has said it does not have the funds to make playgrounds universally accessible for all children.

6,000 children, under the age of 14, across the county, have a disability, but most playgrounds do not have facilities for them.

Councillor Marcia D’Alton (IND) said the universal design concept is not specific equipment for the less-able-bodied. 

“It is something that is easy for everybody, by making the built environment accessible to everybody. I had previously asked that Cork County Council retrofit all existing playgrounds, with at least one item of equipment specifically designed for inclusivity of all, and this is reflective of the national policy, Ready Steady Play, that was introduced in 2004. 

"Unfortunately, Cork County Council’s recreational policy, drafted in 2006, didn’t mention the concept of universal design.”

She added that the council needs to know the easiest, cheapest, and best ways of upgrading playgrounds.

However, county deputy chief executive, Declan Daly, said the council can only install accessible equipment when old equipment is being replaced. 

“There are cost implications related to this and that’s the reason why the municipal districts might want to have an input into this. The undertaking that we gave is that as things are being replaced, we would attempt to make them more accessible.”

Seamus McGrath (FF) said Cork County Council should be promoting accessibility for all playgrounds.

“We are a local authority and this should be one of our core functions. We need to take the lead. I recently had contact from someone in Douglas with a child in a wheelchair and they told me the nearest place they can go is in East Cork. That is not acceptable.”

County executive engineer, Vincent Florish, said: “Many of the playgrounds in the county were provided when there was not an awareness of universal accessibility. A number of communities in these areas have applied for community grant funding to provide universal, accessible equipment in these playgrounds. 

"In many instances, the council also provides funding or land for these new playgrounds...and it is suggested that this matter be explored and consideration given to prioritising the provision of replacement and additional playground equipment, subject to available resources”.

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