Children’s Playgrounds

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:16 am on 21st March 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 11:16 am, 21st March 2018

I can absolutely give the hon. Gentleman that reassurance. I was about to come on to that, but he is right to raise it. I will ensure that a transcript of the debate, including his particular point about playgrounds and play, is given to all the members of the parks action group so that that is uppermost in their minds as they develop their work.

The action group will also explore how to improve equality of access across all ages and social groups. We all recognise that parks can play an important role in strengthening community cohesion, combating loneliness —my hon. Friend John Howell made an important point there—and promoting integration between diverse groups. The hon. Member for Nottingham East made reference to the integrated communities strategy published last week, and that highlights how the use of shared areas, especially by young people, helps to bring communities and neighbourhoods together. As a Department, we will welcome views on the proposals in that Green Paper and we will engage with individuals, communities, businesses and faith groups to help deliver those specific proposals.

With regard to loneliness, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Henley, I am a member of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, which was set up in memory of Jo. The Prime Minister has championed this as a priority for her—there was a meeting only last week, in which we talked about the value of green spaces in combatting loneliness and about ensuring that open spaces feature heavily in the commission’s strategy.

The parks action group will also consider the various funding models that exist to support parks and green spaces, and it will share that information with the sector to support future sustainability. There are examples of innovation, particularly up in Newcastle and the north-east, which I am keen to visit reasonably soon to explore what is being done. I look forward to presenting an update to Parliament on the progress of the parks action group in due course. I encourage all Members to support its work.