Faro set to close almost half municipality’s public children’s playgrounds

“Constant vandalism” given as reason

Faro town hall has announced it will be closing 17 of its 38 public children’s playgrounds due to almost constant vandalism.

The sad state of affairs was outlined by mayor Rogério Bacalhau, who appears to have tried to make the best of the situation by saying that “due to it being impossible to guarantee good conditions and security” for public children’s play areas, the municipality has decided to focus on ‘large playgrounds of quality in areas that can enhance the development of children’s mobility activities of various kinds…

It is a justification that has failed to impress everybody.

António Lacerda, director of the University of the Algarve’s Higher School of Education and  Communication, has been an active voice in the city over the lack of spaces for children. As he told local reporters, besides from children’s play areas being closed for long periods of time (through lockdowns, etc.), those that are open tend to be “very poorly cared for and dirty”, transmitting a negative message to anyone coming upon them.

Closing these places down altogether is not the answer”, he argues. The town hall should be promoting increased maintenance and vigilance. “I know there can’t be a police agent for every citizen, but if people saw some kind of effort was being made, maybe there would be less situations” of vandalism, or in other cases, drug taking in these parks (Mr Lacerda referred to syringes found in the public play area near Forum Algarve).

Local people questioned agree: the council cannot simply build play areas, then leave them – and then close them. Grandmother Inocêncio Santos believes the local authority should be much more proactive.

The town hall’s bleat however is that it cannot keep up with ‘vandals’, who often return to create damage hours after the council has effected repairs.

In a rather holier-than-thou statement, the council claims “the problem always comes down to the civic training of our children, teenagers and adults. It is impossible to control every corner of the city 24/ 7”.

Another perceived benefit of ‘larger parks’ is that they will attract the over-12s, with so-called ‘street workout’ equipment and table tennis tables.

Thus, for now, 17 small parks are to be closed down completely, while new sites will be constructed in Figuras Parque de Lazer, in the future Vale da Amoreira park and in the existing Alameda João de Deus park.