Government cash boosts play supplier trade

Millions of pounds of Government cash for play introduced this year is already having an impact for suppliers and manufacturers of playground equipment.

Mick Conway, national practice manager from Play England - photo: HW
Mick Conway, national practice manager from Play England - photo: HW

Exhibitors at IoG SALTEX said they were feeling the positive effects of the £235 million play strategy, launched by the Department of Children, Families and Schools and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in April.

The investment, over three years, will benefit 3,500 play areas and 30 new, staffed adventure playgrounds across the country.

Playworld Systems is exhibiting its range of high-tech playground kit at IoG Saltex from 2-4 September and managing director Jerry Widdas said the Government cash injection had prompted a large number of enquiries.

We’ve been taking some significant orders, which is good news, said Widdas.

And local authorities haven’t just turned up here; they have been speaking to us for some time and come to see the equipment in action.

Granite play boulder supplier Time Circles managing director Dominic Ropner agreed: Local authorities do seem to have more money and I have been doing quite a bit of work for them.

There has been interest at the show from local authorities who have said they are looking for equipment for the play areas they are going to create.

Play England is part of the National Children’s Bureau and national practice manager Mick Conway told IoG Saltex visitors and exhibitors: If we deliver on this programme there is more where this came from.

Ministers want to see play up there with education and health; it is a very high priority.

The Children’s Playground Company director Rinske Wassenaar said local authorities were also looking for more natural features that fitted in with the landscape.

The funds are just being awarded but the amount of interest is growing; I am expecting to get a lot more business, particularly as councils are looking for more natural play areas as well, she explained.

But Conway added that in order for the cash to become longer-term it was up to local authorities to provide ongoing evaluation of the impact of the new play areas.

Ongoing evaluation is absolutely key because it will give evidence to the Treasury that money should come into play, he explained.

However, Conway said that local authorities should be looking at involving suppliers in the design of play areas earlier than at tender stage in order to help them meet a need for sites attractive to girls and a wide variety of ethnic groups.


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