England’s playgrounds crumble as council budgets fall


From The Guardian, Friday 04 August 2023

Playgrounds around England are falling to pieces, missing large pieces of play equipment, or simply being locked up, as councils facing huge budget cuts struggle to maintain them. In some of the poorest parts of the country, family groups are warning that children face a summer spent indoors because of a lack of safe and free spaces to play.

The head of Play England has said that children’s mental health will suffer as a result, and has called for radical change from what he called a “shameful” lack of protection for children and play in planning.

A Guardian analysis of the collective annual park budget around England – which includes local authority play provision – has found that it has fallen by more than £350m, adjusted for inflation, since 2011.

The forecast is grim. London Play’s survey of council-maintained play facilities earlier this year found that more than two thirds of councils said that their revenue budgets, which fund staff to manage and maintain play areas, are static or falling over the next three years.

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