Tory budget cuts lead to hundreds of English playgrounds being closed
Hundreds of children’s playgrounds across England have been closed by local authorities due to „unprecedented budget constraints” introduced by the Conservative Government.
Freedom of Information Requests filed by the Association of Play Industries (API) claim that at least 214 facilities have been closed since April 2014, with 234 more to come. However, the real figures might be even higher, with a third of councils still working out their latest response to years of funding cuts. By the end of the decade, authorities will have faced real-terms cuts of almost £30 billion since 2010, according to Independent.
API Chairman 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”.
Around 285 children’s centers have closed or merged since 2010. Over the last three years, more than £82 million has been cut from children’s center budgets, while other leisure services providing exercise and outdoor air to kids also suffered cuts.
Gary Porter, the Conservative chair of the Local Government Association, said: “Given ongoing funding reductions, many councils continue to have to make difficult decisions about which services are scaled back or stopped altogether. Decisions like this are never taken lightly and councils are exploring new ways to fund and maintain these facilities.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government responded: “Our historic four-year funding settlement means that councils have almost £200bn to spend over the course of this parliament – allowing them to prioritise the services that communities and local people value.”