Headlines: March 3rd, 2008

Local authorities are being given a chance to apply for a share of 225 million pounds in a play investment programme. Sixty-five councils will be invited to bid to become play pathfinders.

Fifteen councils will be chosen as pathfinders from April. Each of them will receive about two million pounds in capital funding and what has been called significant revenue funding’. The authorities will be expected to work with children, young people and local communities to develop innovative play sites, which will have to be accessible for disabled children.

The idea is to create play spaces with challenging equipment and natural landscapes to give children the
opportunity to play actively outdoors. The new playgrounds will be staffed and will have indoor and outdoor facilities. The object is to improve play opportunities for 8 to 13 year where there is currently a lack of things for them to do, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

Any of the sixty-five local authorities that fail to become pathfinders, but which submit bids that are judged to be satisfactory, will be offered capital funding of approximately a million pounds to develop public play areas. The allocations will begin to be made in April. There will be a second round of pathfinder bidding in the autumn.

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, said, “I want to encourage local authorities to work with children, young people and their communities to develop play facilities which will really make a difference in their local area. I’d urge them all to consider how this money can best help the children and young people in their boroughs.”