LONG-HELD hopes of a much-needed upgrade for a children's play park in Garelochhead have made "real and significant progress", a local councillor has said.

Bendarroch is among six play parks across Argyll and Bute rated as 'high priority' by the local authority for investment.

Almost £1 million has been provided to Argyll and Bute Council by the Scottish Government to improve children's play facilities across the area.

But dividing the sum equally across all council-maintained play parks would leave only £33,500 to spend on Bendarroch - with the same available for other facilities deemed to be lower priority for investment.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the local authority's environment, development and infrastructure (EDI) committee on Thursday, March 2 - and afterwards, local councillor Mark Irvine (Independent, Lomond North) said he was optimistic that Bendarroch could get a bigger slice of the cake.

The other six 'high priority' play parks in Argyll and Bute are located in Arrochar, Sandbank, Ardrishaig, Tarbert and Tobermory.

Councillor Irvine said at the meeting: “I am not 100 per cent clear about where we are with the allocation of the budget, although I note we are looking at an overall figure of £938,000.

“Putting £33,500 into a playpark, as the report shows, does not appear to be able to buy you a great deal.

"Is there an argument to take the six parks in the high category and look at putting in a more significant amount of money, to give them a complete refurbishment?

“We could probably refurbish all six to a higher standard with £140,000 each, and that would leave almost £100,000 for others.”

Hugh O’Neill, the council’s network and standards manager, responded: “I do not disagree with you; we should engage in consultation to see if we have a playpark that possibly does not need £33,500 that we can add to those more in need of it.

“But that is something that needs to come from community councils and the children themselves.

"I am aware that at one of the business days, there were two within the Campbeltown area mentioned as being quite close, and if we did away with one, we could use the spare £33,500.

“However, a member came back and said that there may be a historical attachment, and consultation would be needed.

“We have started to hold area committee business days, and hopefully later next week, I will have drafted an initial consultation which looks to identify which age groups are in the playparks.

“At Bendarroch, you are looking at £140,000 to replace equipment and upgrading to A1 condition. But we do not have that money for everywhere, and it is a fair bit of work.”

Following the meeting, Councillor Irvine said: “The situation regarding the Bendarroch playpark in Garelochhead has been rumbling on for years and I am delighted that during the EDI committee we saw some real and significant progress towards a major investment in that community.

“I’m delighted that the committee and officers agreed with me that elected members should be given the option to treat the budget with flexibility ensuring that parks like Bendarroch could get significantly more funding than the basic £33,500 - which is simply an equal share across all play parks.

“In a properly costed exercise officers highlighted to the committee that Bendarroch would actually need around £139,000 to create a suitable new park, and I wholly support that theoretical assessment.

“I’m not suggesting that we will be able to secure that much for Bendarroch, but it would be wonderful if we could - and I will be shouting loudly to ensure that both the play parks identified in the report are front and centre in all discussion going forwards in Helensburgh and Lomond.

“In reality it will be down to the hard work of our local area committee, the community council, the various community groups, local residents and most importantly the children to help us shape the final plan and ensure we have a playpark that everyone can be proud of.

"I look forward to the consultation process beginning.”