30m to revamp England's playgrounds a year early

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Local authorities in England will receive 30m a year earlier than planned to develop children's play areas as part of the Government's national play strategy.

By next April every local authority will have received at least £1m to develop play areas. Children will also have a say in the design of play spaces.

The funding was originally planned for 2010/2011 but has been brought forward to boost the economy.

There will also be more playworkers to run supervised play spaces, such as adventure playgrounds, in the most deprived and built-up areas.

Eighty-nine local authorities will receive around £1.1m each, adding to the 63 local areas which have already received funding.

Ten new pathfinder local authorities will receive around £2.5m each to create new play areas, renovate existing sites and build and staff an adventure playground.

The pathfinder areas are Blackpool, Cornwall, Kirklees, Lambeth, Luton, Merton, Newcastle, Oxfordshire, Sandwell and Wigan.

The money is part of £235m of investment, first announced in the Children's Plan, launched a year ago this week, for 3,500 play areas and 30 new adventure playgrounds (Analysis, 19 December 2007).

Children's secretary Ed Balls said, 'The best people to say what is exciting and fun are children, which is why we want them to help make the decisions about play services in their local neighbourhoods.'

He added, 'By rolling out our programme more quickly to local authorities, so that every local authority is offered funding by April 2009, we can get better facilities available to children sooner, and support the economy at the same time.'

Other measures announced today (10 December) include greater responsibility on local authorities, led by Children's Trusts to prioritise play, 'a national indicator' for children to rate play provision in their area and guidance and training to design public space for children of all ages.

Play England, which has the Government contract to support the Play Strategy, is producing guidance and running training with local authorities and the voluntary and community sector.

Director Adrian Voce said, 'This strategy sets out a vision for the sort of neighbourhoods we would all want for our children, but which have been increasingly denied them.'





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