Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The importance of play

I spent some time today at a meeting about Play in the borough. Last year the council put together a Play Strategy, describing how we would try to make sure that children and young people will have access to suitable play areas and opportunities, including the chance to enjoy adventurous play and learn to manage risks. Nothing is ever easy of course, with many play areas being described as boring by the children who use them. A bid went in to the Big Lottery for funding to start expanding the opportunities and fortunately we've been successful. Some of it will go to Romano Park at Ingleby Barwick to help provide much needed play facilities on that play-deprived estate. Other money will help with two small projects in Thornaby and in Thorpe Thewles. The biggest chunk of money is going to an exciting scheme to provide a mobile play facility which can tour parts of the borough lacking in facilities and have a play leader to encourage the children to enjoy the equipment. I hope it will also encourage communities to take some responsibility to ensure that the project continues beyond its 3 year funding.
We also had confirmation of an award of Play Builder funding which is designed to enhance play areas. The detail of exactly what it can be used for hasn't been published yet but I hope that we can have some help towards enhancing St Margaret's Play area from it. No chance to make an application yet though!
I also managed to get across my point that someone from the Planning Department should be on the Play Partnership so that they're aware of what's needed in new housing developments. It remains to be seen whether they act on the information when they've got it or whether they say it's not covered by a planning policy!!!

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