‘Cotton wool’ playgrounds to be roughed up

More than 3,500 playgrounds to be built and upgraded in Government scheme.

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Thousands of playgrounds are to be built or refurbished by 2011 as part of a £235 Government scheme that aims to put fun, adventure, and rough and tumble play back into the British playgrounds.

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In the past local authorities have banned traditional activities, such as British Bulldog and conkers, and even swings and slides, because of health and safety concerns and the fear of being sued if children get injured. Now the Local Government Association chairman Margaret Eaton has stated town halls won’t “bow to the compensation culture” any longer. Tunnels, tree houses and zip wires are back on the list for UK playgrounds.

The LGA’s Margaret Eaton also said, “Children playing outside is a fundamental part of growing up. We do our youngsters no favours by wrapping them up in cotton wool.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has even backed the new approach. A spokesman commented that the move could help keep children off rail lines and building sites where the risks to health and safety are much greater.

Only one in 10 children regularly play in parks, fields and wood, but that more than eight out of 10 children would like more freedom for outdoor play, a survey from Natural England suggests.

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