Scottish Borders Council

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chambers. Council Headquarters, Newtown St Boswells

Contact: Eileen Graham - Tel No: 01835 826585  E-mail:

No. Item


Minute. pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Minute of Meeting of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee held on 23 September 2019 to be approved and signed by the Chairman. (Copy attached).



          There had been circulated copies of the Minute of the Meeting held on 23 September 2019.



APPROVED for signature by the Chairman.




Petitions pdf icon PDF 998 KB

Additional documents:


2.1       Petitions Procedure

            There had been circulated copies of an extract from the Audit and Scrutiny Committee Petitions procedure.  The Chairman advised that, due to the similar nature of the petitions to be heard, there would be a slight change to the formal petition process and that both petitions would be heard, and then the Committee would come to its conclusions which may or may not be the same for each petition.  Councillor Robson had notified the Chairman that he wished to make a statement in support of the Kelso petition and the Chairman had agreed to this request, with the statement being made after the officers’ responses to Committee.  The Chairman further advised that sadly the Hawick petitioner, Mr Greg Dalgleish, was not able to be present at the meeting due to a family bereavement and Councillor McAteer would present the petition on his behalf.  The Chairman asked that Councillor Marshall pass on the Committee’s condolences to Mr Dalgleish.


2.2       Kelso Play Parks Petition

            There had been circulated copies of a petition entitled “Save Kelso’s Playparks”, which had received 502 signatures.  The form was accompanied by comments made by the signatories as part of an online petition.  There had also been circulated copies of a briefing note by the Service Director Assets & Infrastructure in response to the petition.     In the statement within the petition, it was explained that the smaller, local parks in Kelso currently threatened with closure were well-used by the under-12s.  Although the investment at Shedden Park was to be applauded, access was still needed to local parks, especially for smaller children in Kelso.  These parks should also attract investment to keep them smart and in full working order.  There was a plea to ‘keep our playparks’. 


2.3       The Chairman welcomed Kirsty Wichary, Lead Petitioner, to the meeting and invited her to present her petition.  In support of the petition statement, Mrs Wichary advised that she had come to the meeting to appeal to the child in everyone.  Shedden Park was welcomed as a destination park but it was mainly for older children, and not a neighbourhood park, and would mainly be used at weekends; these other local parks were for younger children, close to home, where parents often took toddlers.  Should the local parks close, the ones remaining would be too far away either for children to be able to go there on their own to meet their friends, or for parents to take younger children for an hour and still come home in time for tea.  Investing in technology was great with the recent introduction of I-pads for older children, but if parents had the choice they would likely have preferred children to have outdoor lives, with evidence that access to green spaces for children to play was better for them than being stuck at home using electronic devices.  Reducing access to play parks could have a detrimental impact on children’s mental well-being and ability to interact.  Mrs Wichary referenced evidence produced  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Hawick Play Parks Petition pdf icon PDF 1 MB

(i)      Petition – Hawick Play Parks.  (Copy attached).


(ii)      Briefing paper by Service Director Assets & Infrastructure.  (Copy attached).

Additional documents:


3.1       The Chairman then welcomed Councillor McAteer, deputising for the Lead Petitioner, Greg Dalgleish, to present the petition on “Stop Scottish Borders Council Closing Play Parks”.  The petition had been accompanied by a statement which advised that bigger and better facilities should not be justified for the removal of the smaller parks that were situated in various housing estates in Hawick and the Borders.  The comments associated with the petition and on social media made it clear that these smaller parks were still well used and had been described as a safe place to play and exercise close to many homes.  Not everyone was able to access the likes of Wilton Lodge Park on a regular basis and children with additional needs also found these areas too busy and noisy.  The petitioners called into question how the Council had carefully looked at playparks that were not used as much and to explain how they arrived at that decision.  They also questioned why some parks were in a poor state of repair and if these had been neglected over the years, then this should not be justification for removal.  Priority 2 within the Borders Director of Public Health Report 2018 highlighted that investment in children’s play was one of the most important things that could be done as a community to support children’s health and wellbeing.  The statement concluded that the Council was above the national average for play park provision and that position should not change. 


3.2       Councillor McAteer advised that the principal petitioner, Mr Dalgleish, had put a power of work into the town and this was effectively closing play parks.  Residents had a right to determine how Council money should be spent and the decision on play parks should be re-considered by full Council.  The new destination play parks were a great success but there was not enough evidence to show that these local play parks were not needed by the community.  The consultation exercise carried out with Elected Members and at Area Partnerships simply gave details of the closures and did not seek representative views as the plan to remove the playparks had already been made.  Smaller parks were still well used and were a safe place to play.  By failing to maintain play parks the Council had contributed to their lack of use and account had to be taken of the health, wellbeing and safety of young people and their needs.  These smaller parks provided a starting place for play and were the bedrock for future play parks as young people were the future of the Borders.  


3.3       Members then asked about specific play parks at Sleepy Valley, Burnfoot Community School and Millersknowe.  Councillor McAteer advised that Burnfoot School play park was a central congregation point for youngsters, with Sleepy Valley a perfect place, with wide open space.  To give some context, the population of Burnfoot was similar to Jedburgh.  With the removal of play equipment from smaller parks, parents would need  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Community Access to Schools pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Consider report by Interim Service Director Children & Young People.  (Copy attached).


4.1       With reference to paragraph 3 of the Minute of 19 April 2018, there had been circulated of a report by the Interim Services Director Children & Young People, providing details for a proposed review of community access to schools.  Ms Lesley Munro, Lead Education Officer, presented the report, which was in response to a request from the Audit and Scrutiny Committee for a scoping paper on community access to schools.  While there was no specific policy relating to which schools were available for community use, the report covered the work planned to produce a new policy for community access to schools.  Given the many differences across the Borders with regard to community access to schools and the amount of information that would need to be gathered, it was proposed that a steering group of officers be convened to take this forward.  Initially, the group would carry out a full analysis of all community use of schools recorded over a twelve-month period.  This work would be reported to the Audit & Scrutiny Committee by June 2020.  The next stage would be for the group to formulate policy and undertake consultation, prior to any new policy being presented for Elected Member approval.  The final stage for the group would be to monitor the implementation of the new policy and processes.  This would include evaluation of user groups at key points in the first year of implementation.  The outcome of this evaluation and the impact of the policy would then be reported to the Audit and Scrutiny Committee by August 2021.  


4.2       Members welcomed the report although asked if the work could be expedited. It was confirmed that an interim report would be provided to the Committee by June 2020, but advised that this was a complex piece of work for officers, with many historic practices and charges across different localities and venues, not just schools.  It was important to get parity across the area for all organisations.  Quarterly briefings on progress could be issued to Members.  The Chairman expressed concern about the length of time it had taken to get the scoping report and proposed adding in to the end of the recommendation, “with a view to concluding this matter as soon as possible.”  This was unanimously accepted.   



AGREED to APPROVEthe process for reviewing community access to schools, with a view to concluding this matter as soon as possible.




Scottish Borders Council

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