Expressions of interest sought for Carnfunnock attractions

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Larne Council is considering scrapping some children’s attractions at Carnfunnock Country Park due to falling demand and spiralling costs.

A mini car track and trampolines were installed by the local authority at the park’s activity centre in 2006.

But the activities have proven to be a headache for the council in recent years – particularly in terms of maintenance, which is becoming increasingly expensive and harder to obtain as the equipment ages.

Costs associated with the attractions have also risen due to the need for increased staff supervision and health and safety checks.

The council has identified that the trampoline facilities are now running at a loss, and while the mini cars are making a profit, this is considered relatively low when taking into account other costs such as bank holiday wages, electricity and the high cost of spare parts.

Making matters worse for the council, the cars are coming to the end of their life-cycle and will cost £25,000 to replace.

And £3,500 is also required to replace the damaged PVC roof, bedding and springs associated with the trampolines.

At the latest meeting of the leisure committee, director of development Linda McCullough recommended that the mini car track and trampoline facilities be removed and replaced with new activities.

She added that, for a cost of £5,000, a number of other unmanned activities could be purchased.

These would include giant Jenga, outdoor dominos, a pool table, kids basketball net, coin-operated table football, all-surface swing ball, foam moulded bowling and a velcro ball dartboard.

The director also pointed out that there was the potential to rent out additional space to the private sector.

And she said the removal of the mini cars and trampolines would provide space for tables and gazebos for a range of events.

Minutes of the meeting show that Mayor Maureen Morrow supported the director’s recommendation, adding that there was an alternative trampoline facility at Carnfunnock provided by the Family Fun Zone.

But Cllr Bobby McKee expressed concern with the recommendation, claiming that people came from “quite a distance” to visit the park because of the activities available for children.

Cllr Gregg McKeen enquired if a private enterprise or existing franchisee would be interested in taking over the existing facilities, saying that the mini cars still appeared to be popular.

Mrs McCullough advised that an open competition would have to be held, as it couldn’t be offered to an existing franchisee.

To this end, Cllr Roy Craig proposed that officers should seek expressions of interest in the current facility before making any decision on the way forward. This was seconded by Cllr McKee and resolved by members.