WILTSHIRE Council has allocated over half a million pounds to improving play areas in rural parts of the county.

Parish councils will be given the opportunity to upgrade their play areas through this funding before taking on responsibility for the facility.

A total of £603,000 will be used for the programme.

According to the council, there are 24 rural play areas in Wiltshire that have yet to be taken on by local communities.

If the parish council requests it, Wiltshire Council has also offered to use the funding to upgrade the equipment itself, before transferring the play area over to the parish.

The plans for the scheme were brought up in a Cabinet meeting in February, where it was confirmed that the money would be sourced from £4.526 million of extra government funding.

The majority of which is a grant reserved for the social care sector and must be spent as such, rather than placed in reserves or used elsewhere.

However, the rest of the money is available to be spent on projects of this type.

During the meeting, the replacement and refurbishment of certain play areas was described as “vitally needed.”

The leader of the council, Richard Clewer, noted that the problem was “particularly acute” in “rural communities with small pockets of deprivation.”

Now that this funding has been confirmed, eligible parish councils will be encouraged to take responsibility over such play areas.

Cllr Tamara Reay, cabinet member for assets, said: “We know just how important staying active is to children’s learning, development and growth, which is why we’re investing £603,000 into improving rural play areas throughout the county.

“We are writing to all rural parish councils that currently have a Wiltshire Council play area to offer them the opportunity to improve the facility using these funds, and then to take on the running of the park through an asset transfer agreement.

“This has the dual benefit of upgrading these play areas with brand new equipment, while also enabling local communities, through their parish council, to have more say on how these play areas are run in the future to ensure they reflect the needs of the people who live there.

“We know that many parish councils would like to take on these play areas, and this additional funding will put them in the best position to do so.”