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Revamp work gets going at Ian Johnston Park

By Alan Beresford

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LONG-awaited work to transform a Buckie play park has got under way.

Buckie Councillors Tim Eagle (left) and Gordon Cowie have hailed the start of work to replace play equipment at the Ian Johnston Park. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Buckie Councillors Tim Eagle (left) and Gordon Cowie have hailed the start of work to replace play equipment at the Ian Johnston Park. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Funded to the tune of £43,000 by the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Regeneration Fund last October, work had been due been scheduled to begin to replace the play equipment at Ian Johnston Park at an earlier date.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown led to this work being delayed.

With favourable ground conditions, Moray Council are hopeful that the majority of revamp will re-open in just a few weeks.

News that the much-needed revamp to replace the old equipment at the park had begun was welcomed by the town's three councillors, Gordon Cowie, Sonya Waren and Tim Eagle.

Councillor Cowie said: "It's good to see the work started to replace this play equipment at this location.

"The Ian Johnston Park has been a godsend to a lot of kids throughout their childhood and with these new items going in it will continue to be for years to come."

Councillor Eagle commented: "It is wonderful to see the new playpark coming together following consultation with local people in the past.

"This is a well used area in the heart of our town and I am confident the new park will be used by many of our young people over the next few years, hopefully there will be lots of fun to come on the new equipment. It would be great to hear other ideas of what we could offer at not just this park but other areas across Buckie."

Councillor Warren added: "This is a much-needed regeneration project for a very popular and well-used play facility in Buckie.

"The delay to the project getting under way was unavoidable but it's great to see it finally starting.

"I look forward to seeing the finished result – the plans certainly look very exciting."

Initial news of the funding award did court a degree of controversy locally, with some groups, including Buckie and District Community Council (BDCC), left upset and bewildered why a list of projects aimed at helping rgenerate the town centre had been passed over in favour of cash for the play park.

BDCC chairman Kevin McKay said he welcomed the start of work at Ian Johnston Park although he believes more could be done to maximise what the whole facility has to offer the public.

"When this funding was decided I was very vocal on it," he continued.

"Not the fact it had been proposed but the manner in which it was proposed. There was no community involvement until after it was decided.

"We will have a state of the art park when it is finishedbut it could have been a whole lot better . I think what we need is a group to form to fundraiser and put ideas acrossin order to improve what’s there.

"Ian Johnston Park is a fantastic facility. I don’t think it’s utilised to its full potential."

Most of the existing equipment is being removed, however the space net and a set of cradle swings will remain and be refurbished shortly. More than 20 different play elements will be installed, including swings, climbing frame, see saw and zipline. There will also be accessible equipment so all children can enjoy the park.

For safety reasons, residents are asked to stay away while the work is being undertaken. In the meantime, the closest alternative park for families to enjoy is within Linzee Gordon Park.

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