Overgrown grass, shrubs and weed filled flower beds, waste littered walks and overflowing bins, damaged building and children’s outdoor play equipment. These are all permanent fixtures in the haunting pictures of Britain’s parks and playgrounds. The parks in Britain which were once a thing of national pride have become a shadow of their once glorious past. Is this the beginning of an exodus of parks in the UK?
Years of neglecting to properly maintain thousands of parks in the UK, has led to a good number of these parks falling apart and becoming eyesores; many of these once popular relaxation spots initially created for health and wellbeing of everyone interested in using them, have been turned into spots for questionable individuals like drug dealers to hang out. This has given council officials an excuse to term many of these parks as unsafe, close them down, and sell them off.
If left unchecked, this new trend of failing to maintain parks and then selling them off will become a new method of raising funds by the councils. Investigations have shown that three-quarters of the councils no longer maintain the parks; the councils are also guilty of pawning off the parks to housing developers giving the excuse that their actions stem from the unfortunate fact that park funding has been slashed tremendously by the government in recent years. Staff positions at the parks have also been affected as it has been discovered that one in three parks do not have any staff present on duty.
It can seem no one cares anymore about the fate of these public spaces that has played host to both children and adults of so many generations, and the many happy memories they have made in them. It’s no secret that the main demography to be affected by this disturbing development will be the little children who love spending time outdoors in parks and playgrounds.
Chris Leslie who is the Labour MP, reacted to the news by questioning what kind of environment would be left for the children to live a vibrant, and healthy childhood like the older generations did if the declining state of the parks was allowed to continue. He also questioned the inability of the local communities to take up the responsibility of providing children with safe outdoor spaces for them to play and explore; while also challenging the government to urgently respond to the situation. Also, children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, is of the opinion that this development is not beneficial for the children of this generation who are notorious for not being as physically active as the older generations were; with the belief that this is a time when we have to get children to leave their gadgets indoors and go out more.
The Association of Play-Industries (API) released figures showing that the councils have closed down over 347 playgrounds since 2014, and a staggering figure of 70 playgrounds were closed down last year. If you didn’t know better, these figures would have forced you into thinking there was an intentional effort to deprive the children of playgrounds. The slow demise of parks in the UK has to be remedied immediately because the disadvantages of not having these facilities impacts not only the physical health of both children and adults, but also their mental health which lately has been a cause for concern as well.