Kirkstall councillor is Leeds’ new play champion

Cllr Fiona Venner

A Kirkstall councillor is to become the city’s new play champion.

Senior councillors have approved the development of a play sufficiency action plan and have appointed Councillor Fiona Venner (Lab, Kirkstall) as the city’s new play champion, at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday (13 December).

Leeds is the first city in England to commit to delivering an action plan, designed to optimise play opportunities for children and young people across the entire city.

The Leeds play sufficiency project is an ongoing process of research and action to assess, improve and protect children’s opportunities for play.  Extensive research has been conducted by the council, with over 50 hours spent listening to children, parent/carer and front-line worker focus groups, and almost 900 survey responses to help explore what is working for who, where and why at a neighbourhood and organisational level.

This has led to the development of nine strategic play priorities for Leeds to help improve opportunities to play. Priorities include the creation of streets that are safe, welcoming and encourage children’s play, as well as improving access to nature-based play environments.

A new cross council approach has also been pioneered, aiming to embed play sufficiency principles in the heart of decision making across the council, championing the rights of children and young people to access play.

This has been supported by the executive board appointing Councillor Fiona Venner as the new Leeds Play Champion. In this role Councillor Venner will work to pull together council services, public and third sector organisations to increase opportunities for play in Leeds.

Cllr Venner said: “This is fantastic news for children and young people across Leeds, prioritising play is an important step forward to ensuring that everyone in Leeds gets the best start in life. I am really looking forward to getting involved in this journey as the city’s new play champion and working with a wide range of partners to make the Leeds play sufficiency action plan a reality.”

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