“Ridiculous” Edinburgh Council shuts new £50K playground after one complaint


COUNCIL health and safety officials have been branded “ridiculous” after they shut a brand new £50,000 school playground following a single complaint from a parent.

Children and families at Sciennes Primary School, Edinburgh, raised the cash to transform the outdoor play area.

And there was delight when the facility, which boasts a grassy mound, tunnels and a large timber climbing frame, opened in October.

Part of the playground is now out of bounds
Part of the playground is now out of bounds

But Edinburgh Council – under fire for failing to check that more than a dozen privately-built schools were safe – coned off the playground at Sciennes several weeks ago after just one safety complaint.

The fiasco was revealed by MSP Alison Johnstone, who is standing for the Scottish Greens for Edinburgh Central and the Lothian region.

Speaking about the benefits for children of outdoor space, she said: “In Germany children have huge outdoor playgrounds. They’re amazing.

“But at Sciennes Primary there has been one complaint and their new £50,000 equipment is now out of bounds.”

The new area boasts a grassy mound, rubber tyres and a tunnel
The new area boasts a grassy mound, rubber tyres and a tunnel

Shaking her head, she added: “It’s ridiculous.”

Edinburgh Council confirmed that “part” of the play area had been closed but refused to reveal any further information.

But an online document reveals the results of a recent risk assessment carried out by the authorities on the playground.

Despite giving the go-ahead for the playground a few months ago, “hazards” now identified include “collision with boulders”, “falls from timber tower structure” and “slipping in icy conditions”.

Action taken to minimise the risks including getting P1, a construction firm, to “round off the edges of all boulders and rocks” during half term.

Sciennes pupils raised over £50,000 for the playground
Sciennes pupils raised over £50,000 for the playground

They also removed a boulder that was in a potential “falling space”, and closed off access to a large tree.

Last year, a range of fundraising efforts went ahead to help raise the money necessary for the playground improvements.

The school hit their £55,000 target after ten months of holding raffles, fairs and activities including a Swimathon.

The amount was matched by SportScotland after the school applied for extra funding, and the money went towards trip and club subsidies, swimming, cycling and a water cooler.

The closure of the playground is likely to anger parents who have been affected by the recent Edinburgh school crisis.

17 primary and secondary schools remained closed after the Easter break over safety concerns, and now hundreds of pupils have been sent to alternative schools, classrooms and other buildings.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Council said: “A small grassy area of the playground is currently not being used and will reopen soon.”