Welsh Government
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Wales set to become the first country in the world to legislate for play

The Welsh Government believes strongly in the importance of play in children’s lives and the benefits it gives to their health, happiness and well-being and is taking a global lead on legislating for play opportunities for children.

A 12-week consultation has begun on a Welsh measure that will place a duty on local authorities to assess the provision of play and recreational opportunities for children in their areas.

The consultation covers draft regulations and statutory guidance for play “sufficiency assessments”. These set out criteria for assessing play facilities in each local authority area: audits of open spaces, play and recreation provision and other considerations including traffic, transport and community initiatives.

The assessments will be used to develop local authority action plans to improve play opportunities for all children across Wales.

It is anticipated that following the consultation the regulations will come into force in autumn this year, setting a deadline for the completion of assessments (likely to be spring 2013).

When local authorities have completed the assessments the Welsh Government will consider the next stage of the duty.

Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services said:

“Play is vital for children’s development. Children love to play for its own sake.  Research tells us that play increases children’s health, ability to make friends and understand themselves and others, readiness to learn and also resilience during difficult times.  Play is good for children and also benefits their families and the whole community.

“While in years gone by children could be seen playing outdoors almost anywhere, modern life has changed this and it is vitally important that we guarantee the availability of safe places for children to play, now and in years to come.”

Play Wales director Mike Greenway said:

“Wales has had a national play policy since 2002, and now we are focusing on translating the policy into law and real differences for children in their own streets and neighbourhoods.   We need to create an environment where children’s presence playing outside in our communities is welcomed and celebrated.”

Dr Chris Llewelyn, WLGA Director of Lifelong Learning, Leisure and Information said:

“Local authorities are major providers of play opportunities and the WLGA welcomes the opportunity for them to consult on the draft regulations and statutory guidance covering play sufficiency assessments. We encourage all involved in delivering play opportunities to be involved in the consultation process.”

“Local government recognises the importance of play for children and young people and are committed to the delivery of quality play provision.”

The consultation will include the views of children and young people.

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