Labour devised something called the 'National Play Strategy' incredible as it seems; even conkers and hopscotch were not immune from Labour's regulatory lust. At the heart of this was the anodyne claim that 'Children have a right to play' which swiftly translated itself in Statist minds to 'The State has a duty to provide play'. Which of course is nonsense.
For millennia children have created play environments from the environment around them; a threshing floor became a gladiatorial arena for Roman kids, a timber fence a tournay field for mediaeval youngsters and a coal bunker a battle tank for me, my commander's seat a milk-crate. For girls it was easier; any flat surface was a kitchen, and pretend fare was served plentifully and with great imagination. For exploring we had the bronze-age tumuli and woods nearby, decaying barns and farm buildings, weekend building sites and fascinating derelict places.
Today it seems such things must be designed and staffed by the State. First they create the scare - of kiddy-fiddlers, of gangs armed with flashing knives, of packs of child-eating dogs - that discourage parents from letting their children out to play. Then they point out that kids are becoming fat and indolent. Then they implement State Play; gender-neutral, unchallenging, bland and very, very safe. Staffed by Play Workers all with enhanced CRB checks. All at enormous public expense.
So these Statists are now accusing the government of causing 'play deprivation' because the State isn't funding any more Wobbly Chicken Supervisors. Around £100m in capital provision has also been cut this year - but Toynbee, Smith, Snow et al don't seem to have picked up on the implications of this.
You see, the people the government are hitting hardest are not children at all, not even the State play sector. It's actually the private manufacturing and construction sector that bears the brunt of the cuts - the firms who make and install the new playgrounds. The speed of the programme cancellations has left them with unsaleable stocks and workforces geared up to roll out a second year of 'Playbuilders' across the country. They're now offering playgrounds to private developers at rock-bottom prices. Every cloud, as they say, has a lead-coloured lining.