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June 3, 2009

Never too young

A ten year old girl from Tayside has taken her first tentative steps into local politics. Fed up about the state of the play facilities in her local park, she complained to her local councillor  demanding better, safer equipment more in tune with what she and her pals would like to see.   So far she’s been pleased with the Council’s response

A 10-YEAR-OLD Broughty Ferry schoolgirl has turned community activist in a bid to transform her local play park, which is in such poor condition that one of her little friends has been banned from visiting the “dangerous” spot.

Kristie Burnett now has the ear of her local councillor Rod Wallace and is to be consulted on the development of the “sandy park” off Balgillo Road, after she conducted a survey of local children and researched available play equipment on the internet.

With brother Fraser (7), Kristie surveyed more than 50 local children between six and 12 and discovered the youngsters saw a positive future for the play park if it could be refurbished and kitted out with attractive equipment.

The miniature motivator explained that a visit to the play park last month prompted her to take action due to the deteriorating condition of the popular site.

“Me and my friends were down there one day and quite a lot of people were there but you could see they were getting easily bored because there is nothing to do there,” said Kristie. “All that’s left is broken stuff and loads of glass in the sand, so it is really ruined.”

She said her dog Leo cut his paws on glass at the playpark.

“It’s really dangerous. One of my friends is not even allowed to go because her mum doesn’t think it’s safe enough.

“This park could be a nice little park for lots of children to play.

“I know millions of children who come here and get nothing to do so I thought maybe I could write to a councillor or something.

“I asked mum who I should write to and she said Rod Wallace.”

Mr Wallace has previously highlighted the state of the sandy park and yesterday met representatives of the Greenbelt Group, which manages open spaces in residential developments and is responsible for the upkeep of the Balgillo site.

The meeting had been in his diary for a couple of weeks but what he had not anticipated was attending with wads of information courtesy of a tiny activist.

Just the night before, the site visit with the Greenbelt representatives, Kristie Emailed the councillor with her friends’ ideas for the park.

“Quite a lot of them thought the sandy park could be a really good place,” said Kristie.

“It is really popular with everyone. We really want it to be good.”

She Emailed pictures of play equipment, including a helter skelter, monkey bars, a scramble net, a fireman’s pole and other items that appealed to the local children.

The Forthill Primary pupil said a lot of boys wanted a football pitch too.

“The boys who play football in my cul-de-sac always get chased because they play with a hard leather ball and all the men are scared it will hit their cars.”

Kristie’s proud mum Amanda said Mr Wallace had assured her daughter she would be involved in consultations on the future development of the play park.

Greenbelt head of operations Janet McQuillan described yesterday’s meeting with Mr Wallace as “very positive.”

She said, “There has been a lot of ongoing vandalism to the extent that some of the equipment had been made dangerous and other pieces have been worn out long before their intended lifespan.

“We have had to remove one large piece of equipment entirely.

“All the equipment that remains is managed by us and is currently completely safe.

“Councillor Wallace has spoken to children at the local school and they have drawn up a wish list of what they would like to see at the park.

“We are going to try to incorporate that in our own plans for the site.

“This play area has been in place for the past 10 years and there have been changes in what children want over that time.

“The purpose of what we are doing is to take on ownership of the play area and if they feel responsible for it, to reduce the vandalism.”

Janet said that the plans are in their very early stages but as a result of yesterday’s meeting, she felt a first step has been taken.

She will now draw up short, medium and long term plans for the play area with the aim of a presentation to council planners.