Playgrounds set to be run by staff in pioneering new scheme

Cllr Joe Calouri

Cllr Joe Calouri - Credit: Archant

A bold new plan - thought to be the first in the county - could see staff take control of adventure playground to save them from cuts.

If given the nod by Islington Council’s ruling executive next Thursday, employees at six playgrounds across the borough could ‘spin off’ from the town hall and from their own mutual company.

The group would get £600,000 from the council to run services, but could drum up their own income, through private finance, social enterprise, grants and so on, if budget cuts loomed.

Cllr Joe Caluori, executive member for children and young people, said: “In a densely populated borough like Islington it is really important that adventure playgrounds remain open and free for all children in the borough. But due to unprecedented funding cuts from national government, we have to do things differently.

“Our experience of working with the voluntary sector shows that independent organisations have huge potential to secure additional funding and resources, as well as improving services by giving staff and the community more of a say in how services are run and working flexibly to meet children’s needs. We have incredibly dedicated and skilled staff working in our adventure playgrounds and I’m looking forward to seeing their proposals.”

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The staff already work in the six adventure playgrounds; Barnard Park, Cape, Cornwallis, King Henry’s Walk, Three Corners and Waterside.

If their bid is successful, they would start running them from 2016.

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Last year, Islington Play Association (IPA) successfully bid to run the other six adventure playgrounds.

During the past year the number of people using them has increased, leading to their contract being extended to the end of March 2016.

Last year, a new rule was passed which means the council ensure the play spaces are replaced with “like for like” if the land which hosts the playgrounds is earmarked for sale or development.

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