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Information for Local Authorities

Many local authorities are now supporting street play as a low cost way to increase children’s physical activity and build stronger communities. We can help councillors and council officers interested in getting the ‘playing out’ model off the ground in their area.

How does street play fit local authority aims?

Research has shown that playing out sessions give children a chance to be more physically active close to their homes. Local authorities are focusing more and more on increasing children’s health and physical activity and looking for low-cost solutions to the challenges of ensuring children are fit, active and healthy. The temporary play street model is already being actively supported by around 44 local authorities across England as an initiative which fits with wider aims around sustainable transport, cohesive communities and public health.

What is needed to get street play going?

Playing out sessions are most successful and sustainable when they are ‘resident-led’, meaning that residents themselves lead the process of planning and running playing out sessions on their own streets. But local authorities have an important role to play in supporting residents to do this.

Based on our experience of working closely with Bristol, Hackney and other councils, it helps for local authorities to have in place;

·      Strong political support

·      A simple application procedure

·      A clear point of contact

·      Resources such as road closure signs and other kit

·      Publicity and promotion to raise awareness of playing out

·      Signposting to further information and support

For more information on how local authorities can help street play happen in their area, please download our briefing here: Local Authority Briefing – How To Help Street Play Happen in Your Area.

If you are planning to promote a local street play scheme, please read our guidelines on Use of Playing Out’s branding and materials.

If you work for a local authority thinking of supporting street play do get in touch. We can offer more specific advice, and provide training for council staff on the best ways to support residents who are starting playing out.

What is the legal basis for a temporary play street policy?

Many councils have now implemented a policy enabling regular resident-led road closures for play, using a variety of legislation. See here for a detailed briefing on the legal basis for temporary play streets.

Expert advice from Bristol City Council

You may want to contact a counterpart in a council which already has an established policy. It can help to find out what support was put in place by different departments, ask questions about funding and discover how the policy works in practice for residents.

Bristol City Council’s Temporary Play Street Order (TPSO) was established in September 2011. The TPSO policy was developed after cross-departmental discussions led by a Bristol City Council cabinet member with responsibility for public health. Support from both the highways and public health teams have been key to the success of the policy across the city, and representatives from both these departments are available to give advice to other local authorities. A case study of Bristol City Council’s support for street play is available here.

Duncan Venison is Network Operations Manager for Bristol City Council’s Transport Service Department and has helped develop and implement the street play policy. You can contact Duncan by emailing duncan.venison@bristol.gov.uk or ring him on 0117 9036576.

Claire Lowman is Public Health Service Lead for Bristol City Council and has promoted the public health benefits of playing out since it began in the city. You can email her at claire.lowman@bristol.gov.uk