API comment

Protecting green spaces

The API welcomes the launch of the Parks Action Group, an advisory body created by government to look into the future of parks and green spaces.

RESEARCH showing the crucial role that parks and green spaces play in our lives continues to grow. Important new research findings from Fields in Trust show, for the first time at national level, a direct and statistically significant link between public parks and green spaces and health and wellbeing. Based on new analysis of existing data from

Defra and Natural England and new primary data, Fields in Trust have established a link between an individual’s use of parks and green spaces and an improvement in their life satisfaction, sense of worth, happiness and anxiety levels. The study’s detailed findings will be

published soon and come amid news of the newly-established Parks Action Group, a government-created advisory body looking into the future of parks and green spaces. The group will explore options to ensure that

communities can benefit from parks and green spaces for generations to come. “We are at a pivotal point in the ongoing

campaign to protect the future of our playgrounds, parks and green spaces. The wealth of research demonstrating the positive impact that parks have on health, wellbeing and communities is mounting and, we hope, can help to influence public policy,” says Mark Hardy, chair of The Association of Play Industries (API). “We need to act now to reverse the decline

in parks and green spaces due to budget cuts. A recent Heritage Lottery Fund report highlighted cuts to budgets for the running of parks, with 92 per cent of park managers reporting cuts to their budgets over the past three years and 95 per cent of park managers expecting their budgets to be cut over the next three years.”

The API’s Nowhere2Play campaign, launched

in April and starting its second phase in October, also reveals an alarming decline in playground provision. Between 2014/15 and 2015/16 local authorities across England closed 214 children’s playgrounds with plans to close a further 234. Local authorities cite lack of budget to

maintain, repair or replace equipment as reasons for the closures. There is no longer dedicated funding for playgrounds from central government or grants from third sector institutions, so provision and upkeep of play spaces falls on local authority budgets which are reducing. The Parks Action Group has the full backing

of the Local Government Association, which despite facing funding pressures, says it is determined to protect parks, playgrounds and green spaces for current and future generations. “In the light of all these important research

findings, the Parks Action Group represents a welcome joined-up approach to safeguarding parks and green spaces and is urgently needed,” adds Hardy. “These spaces have a major impact both at

an individual and community level, improving health, wellbeing and integration. They are also an important factor in fighting the obesity epidemic and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles.”

The Association of Play Industries (API) is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood, Children’s Play Policy Forum and Federation of Sports and Play Associations (FSPA).

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