Children’s playgrounds are closing at an alarming rate across the country. Hundreds of playgrounds have shut since 2014 with many more expected to close over the next two years. Widespread playground closures are being caused by ongoing budget cuts to councils. Furthermore, the situation could be even worse than it appears as dozens of councils have not yet revealed their plans.

Playground closures

The API (Association of Play Industries) recently released the ‘Nowhere To Play’ report on the state of England’s playgrounds. The report found 214 playgrounds across 64 local authorities were shut between 2014 and 2016. 30 local authorities reported plans to close an additional 80 playgrounds in the 2016-2017 financial year. In addition another 19 councils plan to shut 103 playgrounds over the next 12 months. Since 2010-2011 there has been a 37% reduction in government funding to local authorities. This has caused a big reduction in spending on playgrounds. Local authorities said they are being forced to make “difficult decisions” about which services to scale back in the face of continued budget cuts.

Children’s health at risk

Child welfare groups are alarmed at the findings. First of all fewer opportunities for outdoor play could increase childhood obesity rates. It also won’t help tackle growing levels of stress in young people. Research shows children with a playground within 1km of their home are five times more likely to be a healthy weight. Play also benefits the mental health of children and young people by helping develop important emotional skills. In conclusion, the impact of playground closures could be far reaching and long lasting.

Dedicated funding for playgrounds is vital so the API calls for Government to invest £100m in playgrounds and play spaces across the country. The money would pay for an additional 1,600 playgrounds which experts say are key to the health and wellbeing of children.

Read and download the full report here: http://bit.ly/2oGzWLy

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