An orienteering project for people with disabilities looks set to be established at two of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s leisure hotspots, thanks to funding from Sport NI.
Members of Council’s leisure and community services committee have welcomed potential funding for the project that aims to get disabled residents involved in outdoor activities.
The two sites identified for the introduction of the project in the local area are Gosford Forest Park near Markethill and Tannaghmore Gardens near Craigavon Lakes.
At January’s meeting of the committee, members were advised that as part of the community planning process, officers submitted a proposal to Sport NI to develop the project which will involve map and terrain interpretation.
The funding of £5,500 would be used to purchase maps and flags for the two locations and allow for TrailO events to be organised and delivered by the local orienteering club, council staff and Disability Sport NI (DSNI).
A report on the matter notes that in Gosford, the project would enhance the DSNI All Out Trekking Project.
Speaking at January’s meeting of the committee, Councillor Peter Lavery proposed that members accept the letter of offer from Sport NI and give delegated authority to the strategic director to sign the letter.
He also enquired about the roll out of the project.
“The report mentions two sites but is it envisaged that it will incorporate the whole of the Craigavon Lakes area,” asked Councillor Lavery.
In response, Council’s sports development manager Gillian Dewart said she was not exactly sure but would investigate and get back to Councillor Lavery.
Alderman Gareth Wilson seconded the proposal and said it was great to see more activities added to the offering at Gosford Forest Park.
“I am happy to second this proposal,” said Alderman Wilson. “From my own perspective it is great to see the range of proactive facilities on offer at Gosford increase.
“I am really pleased to see this come to fruition and want to note that it came about through officer initiative so I want to thank the team for their efforts.”
Councillor Declan McAlinden praised council officers for their efforts in bringing this project forward.
Welcoming the initiative, Councillor Darren McNally asked to be kept informed about how residents were responding to the project.
“Can we be kept informed of the feedback received in the time ahead,” said Councillor McNally.
“If it is a success, which I have no reason to doubt it will be, we do have other great sites across the borough, including in my own area, that this could project could maybe expanded to.”
Speaking after the meeting Alderman Wilson added: “This is another great addition to Gosford Forest Park and a further important development in disability inclusion.
“The Park has an ever broadening degree of inclusion for folk with a disability the latest being the All Out Trekking facility which allows access to many of the exciting trails in the forest.
“This will be another important leisure service for anyone to use and hopefully it can get up and running as soon as the necessary equipment is sourced and the public health situation allows for it.
“Until then I would urge everyone accessing Gosford to do so in a safe manner and follow the guidelines on travel, bubbling and also hand washing.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Wilson’s party colleague, Alderman Stephen Moutray has asked Council officers to assess the safety of a pond in Tannaghmore Gardens.
Alderman Moutray said he had been contacted by a several constituents concerned about the potential dangers of an unfenced pond at the site near Craigavon Lakes.
“Tannaghmore Gardens is a fantastic piece of recreational facility that we as a Council offer residents,” said Alderman Moutray.
“However, there is a pond near the barn building that I have been contacted about by a number of residents.
“It is in no way fenced off and with the increasing number of people visiting the site now can Council officers have a look at it and make an assessment to make sure it is safe?”
Alderman Moutray’s request was was supported by the committee’s Chair, Councillor Catherine Nelson.
Council’s head of estate and asset management, Jonathan Hayes confirmed he was happy to ensure the site inspection took place soon