SLCC President Responds to The Guardian Article

11 August 2023

On 3 August 2023, The Guardian published an article referencing the downfall of playgrounds across England. The article, ‘England’s playgrounds crumble as council budgets fall’ can be read in full here.

Linda Carter FSLCC, SLCC President responded to the Guardian as follows and is awaiting response:

As a Parish Council Clerk, I was interested to read your article (‘I don’t go there now, it’s unusable’: how playgrounds are crumbling as budgets plummet. – 3rd August) on the state of the nation’s play areas. The picture you paint may be the case in many urban areas, but fails to recognise the work of hundreds of Local Councils in communities across England and Wales which continue to maintain their play areas while receiving no funding from central government. Local Councils raise their funding from their residents and, while mindful of the pressures on family finances, are able to set budgets that include the costs of regular playground maintenance.

The Society of Local Council Clerks, of which I am currently President, represents 3,500 Town, Parish and Community Clerks in England and Wales, working in councils large and small, who all work extremely hard responding to the needs of their local communities. Many of these councils will have been the recipients of play areas transferred by developers through the ‘new source of funding opening up from housebuilders under so-called section 106 community obligations’ which has been in existence since 1990 and often involves the transfer of the land and management responsibility for open spaces, along with payments to meet ongoing costs for 5-10 years. Some of the larger authorities are happy to facilitate these transfers to Local Councils, along with the funding, while others are not (Local Councils are not usually signatories to these agreements and are subject to the policy of the principal authority in terms of transfers). Not all of the nation’s children are being failed by councils – some are fortunate enough to live in areas with a Local Council whose Councillors care enough to maintain the facilities in their stewardship, because children deserve them.

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