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Wrexham Council looks to encourage children to play outdoor

Wrexham Guildhall

‘NO BALL games’ signs could be removed from green spaces in Wrexham to enable and encourage children to play in their local areas.

And discussions are also taking place about residents potentially being able to apply for street closures during certain periods to allow children to play out.

The ideas were mooted during a Wrexham Council safeguarding and wellbeing scrutiny committee meeting about the authority’s play sufficiency action plan.

This included an update on the child’s play satisfaction survey, Wrexham community playschemes and progress on ‘creating a capital of play’ as part of the City of Culture bid.

The council’s play and youth team officer Gareth Stacey delivered a presentation on the action plan to the committee along with lead member for education, Brynyffynnon Cllr Phil Wynn (Ind).

Cllr Wynn expressed his hope that the Welsh Government’s reduction in speed limit to 20mph on residential streets from this year will give parents confidence to let their children out to play.

Acton and Maesydre Cllr Corin Jarvis (Lab) asked whether, along with other green spaces, the council’s plans to create a public park at the Nine Acre Field in Rhosddu included it being designated as an area for children to play on.

She said: “Is Nine Acre going to be recognised in the same area and are we looking at other green spaces across the whole of the borough that we could identify as play spaces as well?”

Cllr Wynn answered that the Nine Acre Field is no longer the responsibility of the education department but the authority is happy to look at any dormant land in the county to assess its suitability for children’s play.

He said: “As an education department we’ve declared that (Nine Acre) as surplus to requirements, we’ve passed that on to the assets team so it’s very much in their domain.

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“My understanding is the environment department have committed to taking on the cost, because there is a cost to setting up the park and cutting the grass which previously we as an education department would pick up the tab for.

“I think as an authority we should be ambitious, and if there are pieces of land that members are aware of in their wards which belong to the authority and is lying dormant, then we should encourage children to play ensuring it’s a safe area and a safe place for them to do so.”

Borras Park Cllr Debbie Wallace (Con) asked whether prohibitive signage warning off children and play could be removed from green spaces which currently could be seen as unwelcoming and un-child friendly.

She said: “In some wards where there are green areas, there are signs saying ‘no ball games’, so could these be taken down to encourage children to play on these greens?

“I know in my ward children won’t play on the green for this specific reason. Is it possible we could take these signs down?”

Mr Stacey said that part of his team’s action plan going forward is to identify where “positive signage for play” could be placed.

And he revealed that talks are taking place about the potential for allowing street closures during certain periods to allow children to play out safely.

“You’re absolutely right”, he said.

‘No ball game’ signs are a firm indicator to children that children aren’t welcome here.

“I’ve had initial conversations with officers from the environment department about this and it’s something we want to be exploring a bit further over the next year.

“In addition to the ‘no ball game’ signs we’re having conversations about developing a policy for street play closures, whereby communities might be able to put in applications to close their streets for a period of time to enable children to play.

“Obviously there’s a rigorous process in place but signage for play is something within the action plan we as a team will actively be looking at exploring further.”