/ Money, Parenting

Charging for kids’ playgrounds is mean-spirited and mad

Kids in playground

Children’s playgrounds are essential to help kids stay active and develop interaction and agility. Sad then, that Wandsworth Council’s started a pilot to charge £2.50 to play in its ‘almost unique’ playground. Would you pay?

Wandsworth Council – I was feeling good this morning, feeling proud of myself for starting my (very short) runs.

I was feeling the benefit of those endorphin ‘thingies’ that make you happy. And then I read about your latest scheme to charge £2.50 for kids to play at weekends!

Everyone should be encouraged to play

First, well done for building an ‘almost unique’ playground – Battersea Park play area. It may ‘boast ‘some of the most challenging and hi-tech play equipment found anywhere in London or the South East” – but to go and charge for it? Shame on you.

I recently went to West Bay near Bridport, Dorset and there was a playground (free, of course) with a sign that proudly said that it was open for ages 0-99. How great to encourage adults to go and jump on the trampoline with the kids, and have a go on the swings.

Surely life would be better if you started off the day climbing on the rope ladder with your child or grandchild? And what better way to encourage us all that keeping fit is fun and important to us all – it may even help keep us out of doctor’s surgeries and hospitals.

So I stand up and applaud West Bay and do the opposite (I’m too polite to say what) to the mean-spirited council in Wandsworth which has stooped so low to take £2.50 from children in order for them to play.

A challenge to the council

But then this is only a pilot and for those less cynical than me, pilots are put in place only as a test. Perhaps local parents will decide it’s worth paying for a state-of-the-art playground?

Personally, I challenge Wandsworth Council leaders to have a change of heart. Tear down that charge sign and follow the West Bay lead by opening up your playground to all ages for free.

Council leaders, when was the last time you went on a swing or jumped around? This weekend, go to that ‘almost unique’ playground and join in with the kids. I dare you to go climbing. Once those endorphins start buzzing around you, go and look at that £2.50 charge sign and think again about whether it really was such a good idea.

Hannah says:
13 May 2011

Absolutely. Battersea Park is a great asset for local people – young and old, rich and poor – who use the park and the playground to get fit, build friendships and enjoy the outdoors. This proposal is utterly daft and goes against the ‘Big Society’ ethos of building a strong, healthy community and should be reconsidered very quickly.

Agreed. A terrible state of affairs.

Perhaps they WANT the kids to go an play on a railway line instead? or a road?

I do agree it is terrible to charge for something deemed as a benefit and a right for children to enjoy themselves for free.

Sadly this is only similar to the way pensioners are charged for long term care until they are paupers when it used to be free (you know “care from cradle to grave”)

I would like both inequities to be reconsidered.

We have free public playgrounds and very expensive theme parks, so it is hardly surprising that someone would see the opportunity to offer something in between. If this was a commercial operation the entrance charge could be £5 rather than £2.50.

Councils should maintain free basic playgrounds even if they decide to offer an alternative with an entrance charge.

I hate to say this but I feel local council tax should be used to ensure free entry for playgrounds. It shouldn’t be a pay-per-use policy. It should be a play as much as you want activity. Britain needs active children of all ages, on top of the fact it helps in the war against child obesity. Charging has the possibility to cause a playground to be for the privileged only, causing poorer children to play in more dangerous areas like it has been mentioned.