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All ‘no ball games’ signs are to be removed from public areas in North Ayrshire and they are to cease the practice of erecting any further signs.
The decision was taken by the council cabinet at a meeting this week after councillors heard that throughout North Ayrshire there are 44 signs that were erected following complaints about low level antisocial behaviour and where ball games were a factor.
Applications for ‘no ball games’ signs are relatively rare and the signs themselves are not legally enforceable. There is therefore some doubt regarding how effective they are in deterring antisocial behaviour.
Last September former Rangers and Kilmarnock footballer Kris Boyd cited ‘no ball games’ signs as one of the reasons that this generation of children no longer play football within their communities. There is also some concern regarding the negative impact these signs can have on children exercising their right to play.
It is proposed that all signs that were erected by the council are identified and removed. It is further proposed that no further signs are erected in future. Prior to the removal of an individual sign, officers will identify the reasons why the sign was erected and, where necessary, will meet with the resident who applied for the sign to explain the reasons for its removal.
Officers will also consult with community groups and tenant and resident associations where the location of the sign falls within their area. Housing staff will consider whether the original reasons for each ‘no ball games’ application are still of concern. Where necessary, they will work with colleagues in other service areas such as the antisocial behaviour investigations team, connected communities, education, Police Scotland to come to a resolution that gives comfort to the community or individual resident affected.
These arrangements will also be put in place should any requests for ‘no ball games’ signs to be erected in future in order to assist in remedying the cause of anti-social behaviour.
A report to the cabinet stated: ‘Removing ‘No Ball Games’ signage will ensure council land is available for play and will encourage children to play and spend leisure time outside in their local community.’