This week seems to be the week when the Government has decided that it’s time for kids to take their fair share of the burden of cuts.
First there was the story about cutting free milk for young children, and then today they’ve announced that they’re cutting a fund which was to build a load of playgrounds across the country.
We know the story by now. These were unrealistic spending commitments. The scheme was brimming with daft bureaucracy and was costing a fortune. So you can’t have any more playgrounds, you feckless plebs.
What frustrates me in all of this is that I bet the Government has a bit of a point. I bet there is way too much bureaucracy involved in trying to get these playgrounds built. The Guardian Leeds Beatblogger is looking into it – and he reckons 10 are under threat in Leeds.
I assume that means that only two have been built so far. Which, given that the scheme started two years ago, doesn’t strike you as particularly efficient. (see this story from Guardian Leeds for more up to date info) Just as Building Schools for the Future wasn’t efficiency’s greatest hour, you’d wonder whether more could have been built in the time available. But that doesn’t mean that it makes sense to just stop the programme.
It’s not often that I swear on Twitter, but this playground story really wound me up. I have a four year old son and few things depress me more than bad playgrounds. And in Leeds, most of them are poor. There’s the odd one that’s been updated – thanks to the funding that’s just been cut – but most are depressingly bad. We all know how important play is. How important exercise is. Fresh air.
We’re alright. We regularly join the weekend exodus from north Leeds to Harewood House. And why do hundreds of families go there every weekend? Because the playground is brilliant. So we’ve privatised our way out of playground misery. Millions can’t.
I looked through my photo album – and could have picked from a hundred happy photos and a handful of films to illustrate this post. Here’s one from a couple of years ago – Frank on the slide, and me and my sister cracking up in the background.