Thursday, 18 June 2015

This is Riduckulous!

A few days ago I read a statement from a Belfast residents group who with their supporters raised concerns over the introduction of what they termed "pay, play facilities". These fenced off facilities are planned for a green space on which children currently play freely.

This scenario brought me back a few years to the Galliagh Concerned Residents Group. Within this group myself and others raised concerns over the way the community was being run and on how a number of unaccountable groups were intent on riding roughshod over the wishes of community members. For me a central bone of contention stemmed from the proposal to introduce facilities to the area that would incur a cost, a cost that many residents can ill afford.

Over the past months I have heard more and more people in the community raise similar concerns over the need to pay to use the facilities, namely sports pitches. These pitches remain under lock and key despite being delivered to the area in the name of local children, children who spend more time looking in with only an occasional time slot available to them. It must be noted, prior to the introduction of these facilities generations of children played happily and freely on the same green area, yet today thanks to high fencing, astro turf, gate keepers and funding this play has been restricted with the area completely fenced off. Now whilst I'm not saying a very expensive 3g pitch should be left lying open at all times, a grass pitch should be open for local children to play freely on.

Recently this situation has been compounded by the introduction of an open air gym to the same area. This gym remains under lock and key with users charged £20.00 per month or £2.50 per session despite this gym being funded via the public purse to the tune of £70,000. So with this gym built utilising public money why are people in an area of high deprivation expected to pay?

I suppose they could start charging you to leave!!!
I asked this same question of the Public Health Agency yesterday and was told the following;

 "The PHA were not aware that there would be a levy applied for the unsupervised use of the equipment and this would not be the policy with other outdoor gyms funded by the PHA". 

 This was also confirmed at the opening of the gym when Mayor, Cllr McCallion stated;
 What I particularly like about this scheme is the fact that its free to use and the scheduled activities are aimed at all ends of the ability spectrum making fitness and exercise accessible to all.

For those content to duck questions on this issue, I have one very pertinent question; What part of free do you not understand?

Clearly the community should be given free access to this gym with anyone choosing to avail of additional services charged accordingly.There are many outdoor gyms across the north and guess what, they're free to use! I've always thought of Derry as a very unique place to live, and hey, we're so unique we'll charge you for something many other people get for free. 

Derry has the highest rates, highest unemployment rate and the highest cost to use a free gym...This is just riduckulous!!!!

The links below show how these gyms are free to use in other areas:

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