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Council confirms funding position for adventure playgrounds

City Hall

THE CITY council has confirmed it will continue to fund Leicester’s adventure playgrounds for the next financial year (2024/25). It will also make some grants available for the first part of 2025/26, but will expect the playgrounds to become self-sustaining after this point.

The council has written to all nine of the playgrounds to tell them the funding arrangements and to invite them to a meeting next week.

Cllr Sarah Russell, deputy city mayor responsible for children’s services, said: “We value the work of all of the city’s adventure playgrounds and we know what an important role they play in their communities.

“That’s why we want to work with the play associations now to help them develop their business plans and identify new sources of funding, as we know that the council is going to have to review all of its non-statutory services by next year.

“Like other councils across the country we are facing the inevitable consequences of years of Government cuts to our funding, and every service that we don’t have a legal duty to provide is on the table in terms of cuts next year. We therefore have to make practical decisions this year about priorities for the future, as we prepare to make those cuts.

“I look forward to further discussions with the play associations on how we can work together to ensure they are financially self-sustaining for many years to come.”

The continuation of funding will be dependent on the playgrounds meeting certain conditions, including providing anonymised statistics on their users. This information would be needed for applications to other external funders. They will also be asked to set out how they plan to become self-sustainable by 2025.

Laurence Jones, the council’s strategic director for social care and education, said: “As registered charities, adventure playgrounds can attract funding from sources other than the council, and some of them already do. We have been talking to them for a number of years about how they can seek funding from places such as the National Lottery, or by partnering with local schools, and we will continue to do this.

“We will also be talking to them about the option of making a Community Asset Transfer, where the council would transfer the land and building to the ownership of the adventure playground management committee, based on it being able to demonstrate that it could continue to provide the service without council funding.”

The council currently provides more than £1m in funding each year to the city’s nine adventure playgrounds. They are:

Braunstone Adventure Playground; Goldhill Adventure Playground; Highfields Adventure Playground; Mowmacre Playground; New Parks Adventure Playground;  Northfields Playbarn;  St Andrews Play Association, St Matthews What Cabin; Woodgate Adventure Playground.

Each playground operates differently, and funding varies from £84,000 a year for What Cabin to £138,000 a year for Goldhill.

All of the playgrounds open five times a week. Attendance over a year varies from 7,600 visits (not individual children) made to What Cabin, to 20,400 visits made to Goldhill Adventure Playground.

The city council owns the land and buildings associated with the playgrounds.