Another failed Sturgeon manifesto promise– leaked document shows £60m pledge now revised

Nicola Sturgeon slammed by Neil Oliver over calls for Indyref2

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A leaked confidential paper by council umbrella group COSLA has shown changes to the “scope and flexibility” of the manifesto promise over fears around funding, The Record newspaper in Scotland has reported. The SNP had included the multi-million pound pledge in their manifesto ahead of the Scottish elections three months ago in May, which saw the party fall one seat short of a Holyrood majority. Following that victory, First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon claimed it had been a commitment that “penetrates beyond the political bubble”.

But the confidential document from COSLA has revealed the body told the Government the planned £60million spend was not enough whilst also raising the “impracticability” of refurbishing all play parks in the country.

The paper said “compromise wording” was agreed which gave councils “flexibility” to decide where the funding could go towards.

The “revised” wording states: “It is recognised that the extent of renewal, and refurbishment will vary across the whole play estate and will be influenced by local plans and investment priorities and engagement with children and young people.

“However, Ministers expect that the whole play estate will be considered and all play parks that have been identified for refurbishment in line with nationally agreed principles and influenced by local plans and investment priorities will be refurbished.”

Council umbrella group COSLA also told the SNP Government there will also be occasions where a refurb of play parks is “inappropriate” as critical maintenance must often be a priority.

The confidential document quoted Government ministers agreeing to “consider” the case for extra funding beyond the £60million.

A separate part of the same leaked paper also claimed a definition of play park had been agreed.

It said: “Local authority owned, managed or maintained sites, designated for play, which are free to access and open to all”.

The definition in question focuses on the 0-14 age range and excludes multi-use game areas (MUGAs).

Council leaders are understood to have backed the refurb plan in after the paper said the policy had been “revised”, The Record reported.

A council source told the newspaper: “It has been scaled back.”

Ms Sturgeon’s political rivals have launched a scathing attack against the SNP.

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Scottish Labour MSP Mark Griffin said: “We are not even 100 days into this term and the SNP are already abandoning their election promises.

“Scotland’s play parks are in desperate need of renewal because of this government’s brutal cuts to Council budgets.

“This government funding was only ever about fixing a problem they created – and now they’re not even doing that.”

COSLA declined to comment.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As part of the government’s 100 day commitments, we have said that we will agree the first allocation of funding to councils for refurbishment of play parks.

“Our expectation is that the consideration process agreed with COSLA will deliver this commitment.

“We hope to make an announcement soon.”

Over the weekend, the Scottish Conservatives accused Ms Sturgeon of breaking several promises she made to Scottish voters in May by focusing on independence.

The long list of 13 pledges includes a failure to publish an NHS recovery plan which the SNP promised would include a 10 percent increase in inpatient, day-case and outpatient activity.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Once again, all they can do is try to spin their way out of it.

“You’ll hear Nicola Sturgeon claim that independence is ‘essential’ to Scotland’s recovery and that without it, we won’t be able to get back on our feet.

“It’s a desperate throw of the dice from a faltering Nationalist campaign.

“Their obsession with another referendum is exactly why they’re failing to tackle the deep problems they’ve created over the past 14 years.

“Distraction gets in the way of delivery.”

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