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PLAYGROUNDS POLICY 'ENDANGERED BY SECTION 106 CHANGES'

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The government today publishes Time for Play, a report on the importance of play and good quality play facilities f...
The government today publishes Time for Play, a report on the importance of play and good quality play facilities for children.

The Children's Play Council (CPC), part of the National Children's Bureau, welcomed the document but warned that much more needs to be done to reverse the decline in children's play opportunities around the country.

CPC recognises that the report is an encouraging first step in acknowledging the importance and benefits of play for children's health and well-being, and is a start to make good the government promise, to develop a strategic, cross- departmental approach to play policy, made in 2005.

CPC called for the government to urgently clarify its next steps and identify specific commitments and activities across government, if it is to ensure that Time for Play has a real impact.

CPC policy and research manager Issy Cole-Hamilton said: 'Although the report documents some encouraging developments towards play, at the same time other changes to government policy have endangered the future of children's play opportunities.

'For example, the revision of guidelines to local authorities for the use of planning gain supplement (also known as Section 106 funding) have removed children's play areas as a category for funding in their own right and the core services for extended schools do not require provision for play opportunities.

'Our recent report to Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Developing Models for Sustainable Play Provision, based on survey and case study research, concluded that significant secure funding has to come from the public purse - either central or local government - if children are to be able to play freely and free of charge in their own neighbourhoods. For this to be possible there must be a strong message from government - that it takes provision for play seriously and will ensure its long-term future.

'The report, Time for Play, provides a useful overview of current activity on children's play within government and in the voluntary sector. We look forward to increased engagement with the relevant government departments to develop the cohesive policy and action plan that is so badly needed, to ensure that all England's children have the time, space and opportunity for free, local, inclusive play.'

The Children's Play policy forum, a multi-agency forum serviced by the CPC to discuss government policy matters relevant to children's play, will in due course produce a full response to the government report, including detailed proposals for a national action plan for children's play. The forum's membership includes the voluntary and private sectors, the Local Government Association and representatives from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Children's Play Council (CPC) is an alliance of national and regional voluntary organisations, local authorities and partnerships promoting children's right to play and the development of play provision in England. CPC is part of the National Children's Bureau.

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