Reader letter: We need toddler play area at Kirk Hallam

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Most Kirk Hallam residents are relieved that some conventional play facilities are being instituted in Kirk Hallam’s Wirksworth Road.

However, I have been contacted by concerned parents about a supposed ‘consultation’ phase that they say has disregarded their pleas about the inclusion of provision for toddlers.

The council’s consultation survey requires residents to select from two sets of plans, neither of which include toddler provision.

Parents have asked if the two swings that were formally on the Wirksworth Road play site will be replaced.

Erewash Borough Council officers have affirmed that the toddler swings will not be replaced nor will any toddler alternative provision be supplied.

However it was recently reported that toddler and infant play equipment will be made available for a recreational area in Long Eaton. As parents will know, play whether outdoors, indoor, freely chosen or directed is vitally important so why is toddler provision neglected in Kirk Hallam yet prioritised in Long Eaton?

The 2013 United Nations’ General Comment on Article 31 clarifies that governments have an obligation to ‘promote, protect and fulfil’ children’s right to play by means of appropriate ‘’legislation, planning and budgets’

Whilst it is to be applauded that Erewash Borough Council is considering refreshing play areas for older children, parents and carers will know that play promotes children’s health, leadership skills, teamwork, socialisation and academic achievement.

It therefore follows that legislative strategy and public consultation should be responsive to the needs and circumstances of those consulted.

A huge emphasis must, and should, be placed on Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that clearly states ‘every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life.’ Indeed, the reports of the influential All Party Parliamentary Group on a fit and healthy childhood – and its forthcoming report on play would be valuable reading material for an enlightened local authority to chart the way forward in the interests of children, their families and the communities in which they live. Erewash Council must provide play opportunities for Kirk Hallam toddlers and the entire early years age range as part of a wider and all encompassing play strategy for Erewash Borough Council. In failing do so, our local authority is once again ‘missing the mark’.

Cllr Linda McGraw

Representative for Kirk Hallam