Supporting local councils to reopen playgrounds safely
Yesterday a number of national bodies with interests in play NALC (National Association of Local Councils), SLCC (the Society of Local Council Clerks), The Play Safety Forum (PSF), Association of Play Industries (API) & The Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII) met with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to discuss the current government guidance. All involved were delighted by the enthusiasm shown for the provision of play, with it having huge mental and physical benefits to young people particularly at a time when their abilities to enjoy play outside of their homes have been curtailed during the current crisis.
Following representations from NALC and SLCC we were pleased to be invited to this meeting. We had positive discussions with MHCLG colleagues on recent government guidance on managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms. NALC and SLCC welcome API's guidance that provides practical steps for playground operators. It refers to the Government guidance and sets out examples of practice that may be appropriate for local (parish and town) councils or other owners and operators to consider when opening their play areas from 4 July onwards.
BHIB Councils Insurance has also a set of templates and resources to help councils risk assess play areas and other council assets to consider if and how they can be safely re-opened. These are available on NALC’s coronavirus webpage.
NALC chairman, Cllr Sue Baxter, said: "Play areas occupy a special place in local communities and are a central way to how many local (parish and town) councils contribute to the health and wellbeing of their place. I am pleased that we have been able to represent the challenges local councils are facing in reopening play areas safely and that we now have in place a committed dialogue with government officials to ensure that we all can support local councils at this time. We are in challenging and difficult times, the threat of coronavirus is still very real. It may be that it will not be safe to reopen a number of play areas at this time, but with the additional resources we have provided I am confident local councils will be able to make the decisions that are appropriate for their communities at this time".