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Campaigners ‘delighted’ at decision to reopen playgrounds

The Association of Play Industries (API) has welcomed the news that playgrounds in England are to reopen.

Mark Hardy, chair of the API, said they were ‘delighted’ that the government had listened and taken on board their concerns, and acknowledged the crucial role that public playgrounds had in the community.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government had been consulting with the API on the way forward for playgrounds, which have been closed since the lockdown in England was imposed in March. The Government has now announced that all outdoor playgrounds in England will be able to reopen from 4 July.

‘Satisfactory level of safety in place’

A key condition of this however is that the Register of Play Inspectors International say it is ‘vital’ all playgrounds are thoroughly inspected to ensure ‘a satisfactory level of safety is in place’.

Mark Hardy said: “Millions of children have found the months of lockdown physically and mentally harsh, so now is the time to prioritise children’s outdoor play and activity. Local, attractive, safe and challenging community play areas promote activity, healthy lifestyles and wellbeing.   Lockdown has exacerbated the current childhood obesity and mental health crises, so Government must reprioritise these facilities and invest in playgrounds to give all children a fighting chance to live healthy, happy and playful lives.

“Lockdown has highlighted inequality like nothing before and especially so for children.  It is children who have suffered the brunt of the crisis and will continue to do so, unless Government take this as a wake-up call and invest in their wellbeing.

‘Playgrounds are a vital public service’

‘Playgrounds that are free, local and accessible to all are a vital public service.  We have seen through lockdown how much they have been missed. For the 1 in 8 UK households without any outside space they are a lifeline, for millions of others they are an integral part of their daily lives.

“In an urban, densely-populated nation, with a generation of children battling mental health issues, childhood obesity and screen dependency, public playgrounds are not a nice-to-have.  They are essential to public health; parents and children instinctively know this and lockdown has brought the issue sharply into focus.

“Our message to the Government is: act now to prevent children from becoming the victims of the pandemic aftermath. Active kids become active adults, so prioritising the future of free-to-all public playgrounds is paramount in preventing obesity and fostering good mental health.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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