Column: Cuts hit poorest the hardest

(l-r) Yanina Koszalinski, Patrick Meleady and Fran Belbin, of Pitsmoor Adventure Playground. Picture: Andrew Roe
(l-r) Yanina Koszalinski, Patrick Meleady and Fran Belbin, of Pitsmoor Adventure Playground. Picture: Andrew Roe
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The Association of Play Industries, here in the UK, has found that there 214 playgrounds have been closed since April 2014, with a further 234 planned for closure by the end of 2018, due to Central Government cuts being enforced in local areas.

This loss of facilities and opportunities for British children is unprecedented, and erodes children’s opportunities to engage in free play.

The API chairperson Mark Hardy said: “Free play and activity is not a given for many, many children.

“Let’s not forget that we live in a country where space is at a premium and lots of children do not have gardens or outside space in which to move.

“Children’s access to play space is not equal; it’s the deprived areas that are hit the hardest by cuts in public play provision and the ones that will suffer the most.”

Gary Porter, the Conservative chair of the Local Government Association, said: “Local councils want to do everything they can to keep our parks and playgrounds intact but are doing this in the face of unprecedented budget constraints.”

The Government claims that the cuts have nothing to do with them and is solely down to local councils, deciding upon where they want to make cuts and save services.

However, it is the case that by 2020, authorities will have experienced real-term cuts of £30 billion since 2010 and the extent of the cuts are in fact hitting services and resources for children and young people very badly indeed, along with other priority vulnerable groups in our society.

Children who engage in outdoor play benefit greatly from community playgrounds and parks developmentally, and they contribute significantly to a sense of community.

They also contribute to a reduction in community crime and through a wide range of other communal benefits.