Council play areas to stay closed for time being

Sunderland City Council has confirmed that it has no immediate plans to reopen its outdoor play areas and gym equipment.

Government guidance issued last weekend set out the measures that local authorities and any other organisations which own or operate outdoor play areas would need to follow before reopening outdoor play areas.

The new guidance suggests that owners/operators of playgrounds should consider a range of measures including:

- a booking system so that children could book a slot to use the equipment
- limiting the number of users on individual pieces of play equipment
- requesting that only one family member accompanies each child
- introducing frequent cleaning for playground equipment, crawl through tunnels and slides

Having studied the new guidance, Sunderland City Council has said it is continuing to monitor and review the situation but is not planning to reopen play areas in the immediate future.

Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr Michael Mordey, said: "The current guidance makes it very difficult to reopen our playgrounds.

"With 96 council maintained play areas across the city, it's simply not possible to introduce a booking system and the level of supervision required to manage the use of play equipment at all of our playgrounds as suggested by the Government, not to mention the intensive cleaning regime for the equipment that would be required to maintain people's safety.

"So I'm sorry to say that for the time being our playgrounds will be staying shut and we will continue to post notices at play areas to advise people of this. I hope that parents will bear with us on this and in the interests of safety not allow their children to use the play areas for the time being as we continue to look at how we can reopen them safely."

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Sunderland marks the easterly end of the 140-mile C2C (Coast to Coast) route. The C2C cycle trail from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Sunderland is Britain's most popular long distance route, with up to 15,000 cyclists completing it every year.


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