Government needs to do more to offset decline in play spaces

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The Association of Play Industries (API) has welcomed the £13m government pledge to help improve Britain’s parks but says a sustained commitment is needed to offset years of decline.

Last month, the government announced £9.7m for councils to maintain, protect and increase recreational spaces, from day-to-day maintenance costs to playground repairs and the creation of new green spaces. An additional £2.75m will be made available for the pocket parks plus programme to support communities to transform neglected and derelict spaces.

A further £1.2m has been provided to the National Trust and The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Future Parks Accelerator initiative, which supports local authorities to test new approaches to managing and funding parks.

Mark Hardy, chair of the Association of Play Industries, said the funding was “an important step in the right direction and recognition of the positive impact playgrounds have on millions of children’s lives”.

“We need a clear, unequivocal and long-term commitment to play and activity in the UK and the benefits it brings to young people. An investment now of £100m would provide a further 1,600 playgrounds and play spaces – which is only a 10 per cent rise on the number that local authorities reported to be running in 2011. However, the long-term savings made by government in terms of children’s physical and mental health and the cohesion of communities, would far offset this relatively modest investment.”

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