A POTENTIAL £780,000 of funding from the Scottish Government to improve Inverclyde's play parks has been criticised as not good enough by the council leader.

The five-year package was panned by Stephen McCabe as he called on local authority officials to identify how much additional money the council will have to invest.

Councillor McCabe said that the government cash 'isn't that huge an amount' when the half-decade timescale is taken into consideration.

He told a Municipal Buildings meeting: "I have to say I am pretty disappointed in the Scottish Government's play area funding.

"It had been trumpeted that every play area in Scotland was going to be refurbished through this fund [of £5m nationally] but when challenged on that they restricted the extent of the fund.

"It is only council-owned and managed play areas that can qualify for the funding and it's really only targeted at play areas for ages zero to 14.

"Multi-use games areas, of which we have a number in the district, don't qualify for this funding."

The council leader's comments came as the committee approved £416,000 of spending on new play parks at six locations throughout Inverclyde.

Facilities will be built at Wellpark and Craigend in Greenock, Coronation Park and Birkmyre Avenue in Port Glasgow and King Street and Lunderston Bay in Gourock.

The council says the Lunderston Bay development — costing £195,000 — will be the jewel in the crown as a 'destination' play area.

It will be built near to the toilet and changing facilities and will have nature and maritime themes.

Once all the new projects are completed, the district will have a total of 32 inclusive play areas.

The Scottish Government has provided first phase funding of £65,000.

Councillor McCabe said the projected £780,000 over five years is 'not guaranteed' because further discussions must take place with regard to distribution of the fund.

The council leader said: "Investment in play areas has been a high priority for our [Labour] group since we became the administration way back in 2007.

"I think the fact that we've increased the number of play areas and improved the quality of them shows that investment has been well made, and well received."

Councillor McCabe added: "While any funding is welcome, we are only getting £65,000 [from the government] in the first phase...£780,000 as a one-off would be a fair investment, but over five years it isn't that huge an amount of money.

"We obviously need to plan to use that investment but I think we should also be asking officers to look at what the needs are over the five-year period and what sort of level of investment we would have to make to at least maintain play areas to the current standards, if not improve them.

"We need to think about how we will be utilise this potential money from the government, but equally at what other resources we might need to find ourselves."

SNP councillor Jim MacLeod said he was 'glad' of the government investment, adding: "I think it's good to see, certainly in more recent times, that more thought has been given to making our play areas more inclusive for people with disabilities."

Mr MacLeod's SNP colleague Chris Curley said: "Certainly I'm not going to knock £780k from the Scottish Government to help us improve our play parks."

Environment and regeneration committee convener Michael McCormick told the Tele after the meeting: "We're continuing to lead the way in investing in our play areas, especially making them more inclusive for children and young people of all ages and abilities.

"Earlier this year we spent £200k making 13 sites more accessible and these six new play parks will build on that further.

"The Lunderston Bay development in particular will be really special as a 'destination' play area that will enhance the visitor experience and encourage people near and far to discover Inverclyde and the many great things we have to offer."

Twenty-eight council sites now have inclusive play equipment compared to five in 2019.

At Coronation Park, there will be additional inclusive play equipment added to the existing play area and a new accessible outdoor gym for adults will be installed.

The developments at Wellpark and Craigend will see the existing play areas renewed while the sites at Birkmyre Avenue and King Street will see improvements made to the surfaces and to make them more accessible.