This is a very quick blog update to let you all know that Auckland Council has released its discussion document for its revision of its play strategy. You can find it here: Tākaro – Investing in Play. This page provides information about how to make a submission.
Here’s the language about fencing:
Fully-fenced play spaces are provided on an ad hoc basis in order to manage hazards, separate children from the wider park, or provide dedicated play space for children and families with particular needs, including multiple birth families, deaf or autistic children, or children who run away from adults.
Fencing a play space restricts play and prevents access to play opportunities beyond the fenced area. Gates are sometimes difficult to navigate for prams and wheelchairs, and most locks are almost impossible for a person in a wheelchair to open.
Fences are only as effective as the last person to use the gate. The gate lock often fails from vandalism, children swinging on the gate or the gate being propped open. The cost of replacing locks can be expensive over time.
It is not practical or desirable to provide a fence at every playground. This means that parents and caregivers need to take responsibility for monitoring children and managing hazards.
The provision of fencing needs to be considered across the whole network, and targeted at play spaces where it can benefit the most people.
Fencing is expensive and it uses budget that could be invested to provide for play. The cost of fencing is approximately $250 per metre or approximately $65,000 to fence an average neighbourhood park. Fencing a whole park is preferable to fencing only the playground equipment as this allows the whole park to be used for play.
There are a variety of natural barriers that can provide an alternative to fencing. These include planting hedges or creating grass mounds. Natural barriers are cheaper than fences and do not isolate the playground from the whole park.
It’s fairly disappointing to read this language, which is so clearly prejudiced against playground fencing. I also noted the straw man argument of claiming that fencing whole parks is the best option – obviously, that’ll be easy to dismiss an an option because of cost considerations. There’s also a total lack of acknowledgement that paying for equipment in playgrounds that, because of a lack of fencing to protect children from busy roads, open water, or unleashed dogs, are under-used, is a huge waste of money.
However, all is not lost! We have until 10 July to make submissions in response. My last exam is on 30 June, so that’ll give me a good amount of time to put together my submission. Pretty much every sentence in the extract above warrants further discussion, so there’s plenty to talk about.
It is hugely important that other Aucklanders also respond to this discussion document – we won’t get far if Kiwi Play Safe is the lone voice! Please follow the link above to find out how to get involved. You can do so via an online form, or by writing a document and posting it, or via email, so it’s very easy to participate.
Apparently there will also focused stakeholder events to discuss this document, so I will see what I can find out about how and when these will take place.
Now is our opportunity to push for more fenced playgrounds in Auckland, so please don’t miss the chance to voice your views!
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