“No smoking” plan for York playgrounds

The York Council is set to implement a ban on smoking in playgrounds.

It says that children are more likely to take up the health threatening habit if they frequently see adults smoking.

A report is being considered next week

The ban will be advisory but the Council hopes that peer pressure will ensure that it is respected.

1 in 10 York adults smoke cigarettes

The Council are to consult on whether the ban should include “e-cigarettes”

NB. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, killing half of all lifetime users.1 Currently, 11.9% of the York adult population smoke (more than 20,000 smokers), which resulted in over 700 deaths in the city (2016-18), nearly 2000 hospital admissions a year, and costs the economy (through healthcare costs and lost productivity) over £34m a year.

Whilst levels of smoking have fallen faster in York than nationally over the last decade (the prevalence of smoking in England is 13.9%), it still ranks as one of the major public health issues facing our population, and one of the key modifiable factors in improving the health and wellbeing of the people of York across the life course.

Children’s playgrounds all now open in Westfield

Children’s playground in the Westfield area have all now been reopened. Some are displaying “best practice” signs outlining health restrictions. Judging by the numbers in the Acomb Green play area this has proved to be very popular with children (and probably parents).

Acomb Green
Dickson Park
Foxwood Lane
Grange Lane

York playgrounds to get overdue refurbishment

…but there is a catch

The York council plans a £250,000 make-over of playgrounds in York. Their plans will be discussed at a meeting next week. The initiative is welcome, but the timetable produced means that improvements in our parks will not be evident until late next year.

Many of York’s playgrounds are poorly maintained with litter, weeds and dog fouling common problems

Standards in many parks and playgrounds have declined in recent years. They have been an easy target for Council expenditure cuts. As a result, it has been left to volunteers to undertake minor refurbishment work while items of broken equipment have often remained unusable for months on end.

The Liberal Democrats – who are now part of the leadership of the Council – advocated for many years that at least one piece of equipment at each major playground should be renewed each year. This would have ensured that there was something novel to engage children’s interest on a regular basis while avoiding the whole-scale decline, and eventual expensive renewal, of complete play areas.  This approach seems set to be abandoned by the new Council leadership.

We agree with the report, which has been written by officials, when it says “Whilst the number and geographical spread of equipped playgrounds is therefore generally good, their play value is more varied. This reflects their age and sporadic local and national investment that has been available”.

The report promises an “audit” of all playgrounds with a view to identifying “urgent investment needs e.g. replacement swings, seats, surfacing repairs”. The budget for this work will be £150,000. The report lists the qualifying play areas but omits some such as the one  in Dickson Park on Tedder Road.

More controversial, is an allocation of £100,000 as a “challenge fund” for larger refurbishment schemes. One feature of these is that matching funding will be expected from parishes or social housing providers. In theory the fund will be available in non parished areas but the examples of fund raising quoted in the report (Poppleton, West Bank Park) refer to typical “Middle England” neighbourhoods where fund raising for new amenities is relatively easy.

It’s potentially bad news for areas like Westfield (the statistically poorest part of the City) which also has a high proportion of under 16’s in its population

The area has suffered badly as a result of recent Council decisions which have seen the removal of open spaces, sports facilities and the multi user games area at Kingsway West and Lowfields.

It seems that it may also be last in the queue for improved play facilities.

New children’s play plan for York to be discussed

A new plan for play provision in York will be considered at a meeting next week.

strimming needed under play equipment in GBrange lane park

Strimming needed under play equipment in Grange Lane park

The City has £415,000 available to invest in new play provision. However, many existing sites are being excluded from consideration for improvement because they have “recently” had investment from the Playbuilder programme, the National Lottery or similar.

That means that 4 sites in Westfield – Chesney’s Field, (Foxwood Lane) Playbuilder 2009/10, Grange Lane Playbuilder & Yorventure 2010/11, Acomb Green Big Lottery Fund 2012 and Cornlands Road 106 and Yorventure – will not benefit.

It seems a shame to us that resources are not to be distributed based on the number of children resident in each area.

Westfield's newest playground located in the Cornlands park is increasingly popular

Westfield’s newest playground – located in the Cornlands park – is increasingly popular


It does mean though that some playgrounds, like the one in the Tedder Road park, may qualify for an uplift. The absence of a playground aimed at children living in the Kingsway West area has been an issue for a long time so perhaps that neighbourhood also may benefit.

Suggestions are being invited through the summer edition of “Shine”

The report also talks about high usage playgrounds being inspected each week to ensure regular maintenance and repair work is carried out.

Litter problems mount on York’s open spaces and playgrounds

Litter still  covers the Cornlands playground

Litter still covers the Cornlands playground

Several local playgrounds and open spaces are covering in litter.

The problems have increased since the start of the school holidays but the root cause was the councils decision to remove many litter bins 12 months ago.

We have reported the Cornlands Park, Chesney’s field, the Westfield Place field and the Grange Lane play area this week.

Grange Lane playground - Equipment repaired but litter everywhere

Grange Lane playground – Equipment repaired but litter everywhere

At Grange Lane the play equipment is now all in working order but the area has been spoiled by litter and dumping.

In our view each of these – and one or two other locations – should each have at least one litter bin.