Headlines: May 27th, 2009

Council leaders are calling on parents to let their children be children and to shake off what they call ‘the cotton-wool culture’. The plea has come from the Local Government Association which is promising councils will put adventure back into play and which has produced research showing playgrounds moving away from the days of ‘no ball-games allowed’.

The LGA research reveals that play areas now include zip wires, climbing structures, and tunnels, which have been paid for by the 235 million pounds of funding announced in the Children’s Plan. Councils, it says, are building or re-equipping more than 3,500 playgrounds by 2011. The study shows that holiday play schemes run by local authorities are also part of the trend to more adventurous pursuits and offer circus skills, BMX biking and surfing as part of their activities.

Margaret Eaton, who chairs the Local Government Association, said playing outside was a fundamental part of children’s growing up. They needed the opportunity to have adventures and let their imaginations run free and councils were helping to provide many places where that can happen.

” We do our youngsters no favours by wrapping them up in cotton-wool, which can prevent them from developing skills they’ll need in their adult life. Town halls are determined not to bow to the compensation culture. The idea councils are dominated by health and safety rules is being exposed for the myth it’s always been,” Councillor Eaton added.

She was supported by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Its head of leisure safety, Peter Cornall, said: “We need to try to break down the perceived safety barriers to playing outside and having playgrounds which are challenging and exciting is a positive step towards this.”