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Leeds Council: Play areas re-opening – UPDATE

UPDATE:

Children’s play areas and playgrounds in Leeds will begin to reopen from tomorrow (Thursday).

The reopening programme is being done gradually to ensure they meet the requirements set out in the government guidelines around cleaning and social distancing to allow them to reopen safely. There are more than 200 play areas and outdoor gyms across Leeds with over 2,000 pieces of equipment. It will therefore take time to reopen all of the play areas and playgrounds, and Leeds City Council would like to the public for their patience during this time.

The following parks will be reopened on Thursday 23 July:

  • The playground at the Arium
  • The playground and adventure playground at Lotherton Hall
  • The playground at Middleton Park
  • The two playgrounds at Roundhay Park along with outdoor gym equipment
  • The playground at Temple Newsam

Cllr Mohammed Rafique said:

“Some playgrounds and play areas will reopen in some communities later than others, because of the practical implications of national guidance in terms of the day-to-day management of each area and the subsequent additional pressures on our budgets. As a consequence of this the council will be writing to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government requesting that the guidance is reviewed for those who manage a large number of municipal playgrounds that invariably have no site-based staff presence, over a wide geographic distribution.”

ORIGINAL POST 11am: Leeds City Council has claimed all of its 200-plus public play areas remain closed, and “should not be used”, writes Richard Beecham.

The authority had put out a statement last week claiming six of its children’s play areas would reopen, amid recent relaxing of the Covid-19 lockdown rules.

However, the council has since claimed the statement has been withdrawn, and that further checks and cleaning had to take place on outdoor gyms and playground facilities before they could once again be used.

Correspondence from Leeds City Council said: “Currently all of our playgrounds and outdoor gyms remain closed, and should not be used.

“Legal opinion is quite clear that to open our playgrounds without individual risk assessments and control measures regarding social distancing and an enhanced cleaning regime is not acceptable under the government guidance.”

The authority claimed it was ‘working hard’ to carry out the risk assessments to meet government guidelines but, as this included more that 2,000 pieces of equipment, it was not currently possible to open them safely.

It added: “We hope to be able to open some playgrounds shortly, but our focus has to be on the safety of children and families using them.”

The council had originally claimed that from July 16, it would begin to reopen sites including the playground at the Arium, two at Roundhay Park and the playground at Temple Newsam.

But, following the publishing of the new government guidance, the authority took the decision not to open the sites.

According to the new guidance, all owners of play areas and outdoor gyms need to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment on each facility.

It added that users should be able to safely observe one metre-plus social distancing rules and, if possible, introduce a maximum number of users, or even a booking system. Regular cleaning should also take place on equipment, according to the guidance.

Earlier this week WLD reported on Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves calling for all playgrounds to be opened during the summer holidays.

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