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CNES, Community Learning and Development working in partnership with Newmarket Playpark, has secured £97,470.64 through the Healthy Islands Fund to provide sensory play equipment and disabled user friendly equipment in the Newmarket Playpark.

The partnership also secured funding through the Crown Estate and Community Landfill Scotland to purchase an eco-friendly toilet and complete the community path from Newmarket Playpark to Tong. The work on the path is in the latter stages of completion.

In 2018 the place standard and the community signature tool gathered evidence from the communities across the Western Isles. Stornoway North which is the area that the Newmarket Play park sits in, came out as having poorer outcomes for individuals and families coupled with social and economic issues. As a result a locality group was formed in Stornoway North to draw up an area plan which would look specifically at the issues that are facing the community.

One thing that came out of the area plan was the need to upgrade existing community assets, which were under used due to the dilapidated condition. As a result the committee of the park started to source funding to start upgrading and replacing equipment.

The increase in population around the play park, along with recent planning permission being granted for more social housing, coupled with the popularity of the area to visitors and residents alike has resulted in a need to ensure that all play park equipment is fit for purpose and meets the needs of all those using the facilities.

Roddie Mackay, Leader of the Comhairle, said: “At a time where the current global pandemic and restrictions have impacted on our communities both mentally and physically, it is even more important to provide safe accessible outdoor areas for children, families and individuals to enjoy. Congratulations to all those who have got us this far in this exciting project.”

Murray Macleod Chair of Newmarket Play Park, said: “Securing this funding is great news but it is now that the hard work really begins. It has been one of our main goals to make the park accessible  to all and with the completion of the community path connecting the Newmarket and tong communities and the addition of toilet facilities we hope to encourage more visitors to the park. This would not have been possible without the hard work of our volunteers and we are very grateful to all involved in this project.”

Part of the inclusion project is to upgrade and install equipment that is disabled user friendly. The play park as it stands is used by a diverse range of the community including, senior citizens making use of the pathway for regular exercise, walkers who are doing so on the recommendation of their doctor, disabled users, parents and visitors to the Newmarket garden and play area, schools, nurseries and youth groups.