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Town Halls ditching "cotton wool culture" with adventure playgrounds

An encouraging survey from the Local Government Association suggests that Councils are increasing the amount of adventure equipment in playgrounds. 3,500 playgrounds are being built or refurbished in a manner that it is hoped will banish the "cotton wool culture."

Cllr Margaret Eaton, the Chairman of the LGA, says:

“Children playing outside - getting grass stains on their clothes, twigs in their hair and grazing their knees - is a fundamental part of growing up.

“Children need the opportunity to have adventures and let their imaginations run free, and it’s fantastic that councils are helping provide so many places where that can happen.

“Crucially, going to a playground or a park is free. Families don’t have to spend a fortune on a day at a theme park for children to enjoy some thrills and spills.

“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.”

Peter Cornall, head of leisure safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, says:

“Children thrive on adventure and providing good playgrounds should also discourage them from seeking out excitement in places such as construction sites, derelict buildings and railway lines where the hazards are far greater.” 

The LGA survey gets a general welcome in the press. However in their report the Daily Mail describe it as a U-turn and add:

However, local authorities have for years been behind bans on traditional games such as conkers and snowball fights, amid health and safety fears.

In 2006 alone, 33 laws and more than 1,000 regulations were introduced designed to reduce possible risks faced by youngsters. Experts have warned that anxious parents are raising a generation of 'battery-farmed kids' denied the independence, experience and education that comes from exploring the outdoor world. Just one in ten children play regularly in parks, fields and woods according to a survey commissioned by Natural England. Yet 81 per cent say they would like more freedom to play outside.


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