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A recent report by the Association of Play Industries has revealed how local authorities nationwide, have slowly been closing children’s playgrounds and parks at an alarming rate.
Extensive research carried out as part of the API report shows that between 2014 and 2016 local authorities across England closed 214 children’s playgrounds and public parks, depriving local communities of access to these vital green spaces in the process.
When questioned about the park closures a number of the local authorities involved admitted that there are in fact another 234 more parks and playgrounds scheduled for closure.
It is no secret that in recent years, there has been a series of spending cuts to play areas and public spaces around the UK but these latest figures highlight just how serious the situation really is.
Childhood obesity and wellbeing have been high on the Government’s agenda for sometime now yet the report revealed that the majority of the recent playground closures were as a direct result of a 37% cut in Government funding to local authorities.
The Chairman of the Association of Play Industries Mark Hardy had this to say “With increasing childhood obesity and the health benefits of activity and play well known, now is not the time for community playgrounds to be closing. This action goes against the Government’s clear intention to get children more active and needs to be stopped as quickly as possible”.
The loss of so many playgrounds across the country is undoubtedly a travesty and a number of organised protests have already taken place but with so many parks already closed is it too late to reverse the damage?
According to the same report approximately £100 million of investment could not only reverse the closures but also increase the number of playgrounds available to children across the country.
However, with the recent cuts as a clear indication, the funding is obviously not going to be coming from the government. Local authorities will have to continue to make difficult decisions about which parks and playgrounds are to be closed, unless they look towards organisations like the Big Lottery to meet the investment requirements.
As adults it is easy to become complacent about the importance of our connection with nature and quickly lose touch with it, we covered this topic in more detail in one of our recent articles "Losing Touch With Nature" a subject matter all of us at Landscaping Solutions are very passionate about.
It is heart breaking to think that unless something can be done we are gradually going to witness playgrounds and green spaces up and down the country disappearing from our urban landscape and while campaigners battle tirelessly to defend our parks and playgrounds, the harsh reality is that for now the future of Englands parks is unknown.
For further information or to read the The full report 'Nowhere to play' visit the API website.