New research is highlighting that playgrounds in the North West continue to close at an alarming rate. This is despite claims from the Government that it is tackling childhood obesity and mental health problems.
In April 2017, the Association of Play Industries (API) ‘Nowhere to Play’ report first uncovered the state of playground decline in England. It revealed the closure of hundreds of playgrounds.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, the API has once again requested local authorities disclose current and planned playground closures and discovered a range of alarming facts, amongst these:
- By 2020/21 there will have been a 44% decrease in spend on play facilities from 2017/18.
- In 2016/17 local authorities closed 63 playgrounds and in 2017/18 a further 70 playgrounds have been closed.
- Since 2014 local authorities have closed a total of 347 playgrounds across England.
- There will be a decrease in spend on playgrounds of over £13m each year on average across England.
- Local authorities estimate a decrease in their spending on playgrounds of £25m by 2021.
Total number of North West playgrounds closed or to be closed between 2018 – 2021 = 29.
API chair, Mark Hardy, says:
“The impact on the NHS of childhood obesity, poor fitness and mental health problems is sizeable. One of the root causes is that children are not playing outside as freely as they once did and this is partly because of the lack of local, high-quality and safe areas available for them to play in and socialise. A relatively small investment by government could have huge social and health benefits for years to come.
“Outdoor play is essential to children’s development. In this screen obsessed and often time poor society, children need playgrounds to develop vital social skills more than ever, and as such these community spaces have a central role in children’s physical and mental health. In the midst of an obesity epidemic and a mental health crisis we are calling on the government to make a significant and sustained investment in our playgrounds before it is too late.”
A full copy of the research and statistics can be found here.