Park strife on Newtongrange housing estate

A Newtongrange man has hit out at his estate managers for the 'appalling' work done to repair the two parks in his housing development.

Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 7:42 am
Mark Gordon is refusing to pay his estate manager for the upkeep of the playparks on the 15 year old estate due to the poor work done. The soft astro turf is loose in the park in Janette Stewart Drive and kids are peeling it back and climbing under it

Mark Gordon, owner of Edinburgh Plumbing Services, was left shocked at the state of repairs carried out at the Orchard Grange housing development in the village by estate managers FirstPort.

Residents were charged £2,500 in advance as part of the £8,381 annual management fee, costing each household around £163. After 14 months of delays it was indicated by First Port that the repairs had been carried out, with the cost reduced by £850.

FirstPort said more repairs had since been carried out at the playparks and that further inspections will be made.

The standard of repairs has led Mark to write to the Health and Safety Executive as he fears a child could be seriously injured.

Mark said: “After the annual inspection by a play park inspector in 2016 the parks needed repairs and some upgrades. Not surprising after being installed some 15 yeas ago.

“Our estate managers, who order and deal with the inspectors, gathered costings and asked for advance payment from all residents.

“After we received our next invoice some six months later I decided to have a quick look at the play parks. No works had been carried out.

“I then wrote to First Port refusing to make any payment. I received no reply but received no reminder from them. Then last week with another six months gone I received an invoice for our maintenance for the full year.

“Of course I again visited the play parks to find a few things had been carried out but to such a poor standard. It’s just appalling. Most alarming was the fence around the play park had not been replaced and the fence has part exposing four inch nails.”

The repairs list given to residents for the two parks included missing components from Play Park equipment (‘Finger Traps’), repairs to swings, replacement of rotten fence posts around one of the play parks, repairs to the rubber resin floor and a fresh coat of paint on some of the play equipment.

Mark has lived at the Orchard Grange estate since it was opened 15 years ago.

He added: “Most of the other residents don’t have kids. Or just don’t have a look.

“I’m usually quite pro-active, because I’m in the trade.

“When it’s something blatantly obvious that could cause issues for kids I think something needs to be said.

“I want to pay my money but I want the repairs to be done first.

“Most of the listed repairs have not been carried out. Or have been carried out, the painting, but to an appalling standard. There are specialist companies whom carry out repairs to play parks but definitely not this time.

“Reading my last letter from them, that went out to all residents, FirstPort proudly tell us that ‘significant safety and refurbishment works were now completed’.

“The place is falling to bits after having this work done. I’m refusing to pay until the work is carried out to an acceptable standard. They say significant repairs have been carried out but that’s not the case. It’s a disgrace.”

A spokesperson for FirstPort said: “We commission a professional risk assessor to make an annual inspection of the parks at Orchard Grange. Following the most recent inspection in January, they concluded that while some maintenance was needed, the playgrounds were safe to use.

“When non-urgent repair and maintenance work is needed as in this case, we will collect the funds from customers over the course of the year, rather than raising an extra one-off payment. This makes it easier for customers to pay and spread out the cost of improvement work.

Repairs and maintenance were completed by our contractor in June and, until Mr Gordon raised issues, we had received no complaints about the standard of work.

“The damage to the park fence appears to be recent and has now been addressed. We are making further inspections to understand if any other work is needed.

“Where problems are highlighted to us between annual inspections and other site visits, we deal with them as soon as possible subject to their urgency, so that our customers and their children can enjoy a safe environment in which to play.”

The Health and Safety Executive has passed Mark onto Midlothian Council. A council spokesman said it is aware of the complaint.