PARENTS and children opposed to plans by a Scots local authority to remove all the equipment from 50 of its play parks have staged a series of protests at six of the targeted sites.
About 150 people took part in the St Andrews Day action, which could see half of the play parks in Angus effectively shut.
The demonstration took place amid increased awareness in Scotland of the importance of outdoor play as a way of combating obesity and ill-health among children and young people.
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A report by Greenspace Scotland this year found less than 1% of local authorities green space was set aside for children's play areas.
Protests organised by a group named Protect Our Parks, Save Our Swings took place in six towns – Carnoustie, Forfar, Brechin, Monifeith, Kirriemuir and Montrose.
Morven Roebuck, 32, from Forfar, who protested with her children at the town's Gallowshade Park, said: "We want all our play parks to stay open. We don't want to be left with a piece of tarmac lying empty.
"I live in a flat, I don't drive and it's vital that my kids can get out somewhere close by and play outside. The Scottish Government has all these campaigns to encourage parents to play with their children and be active outdoors – so it doesn't make sense for the council to be closing parks.
"We're not looking for a lot. Just a space for children to play. Maybe something like hopscotch on the ground as a focus."
SNP-led Angus Council says it is being forced to consider removing the equipment from 50 play parks because they have fallen into disrepair, could be a health and safety hazard and would cost £705,000 to upgrade.
The local authority is facing a potential £45 million shortfall in its capital funding programme over the next three years. The current proposal would save about £31,500 a year in maintenance costs.
The council has pledged to spend about £1.2m on improving 50 other play parks.
Marguerite Hunter Blair, chief executive of the group Play Scotland, said the protests showed a huge strength of feeling about play facilities.
She said: "This is clearly an issue that people feel very strongly about. They are absolutely furious and they feel they are on the right side in terms of public policy in Scotland and if they can stand up to this they can stop it. I know it can be expensive to remove the equipment and bring the park up to standard with new swings and slides and so on but there are lots of low-cost alternatives."
Councillor Donald Morrison, convener of Angus Council's Neighbourhood Committee, which drew up the proposal, said the plans were out to public consultation. He said: "We understand the public anger and we will be doing all we can to come up with imaginative solutions allowing children to have areas close to their homes to play."
A final report will be presented to the committee in January.