20th October 2016

“When it comes to our children’s health and wellbeing, are we planning to fail?” That’s the question Association of Play Industries (API) Chair Mark Hardy will be asking at the SALTEX Learning Live education programme this year.

In his seminar, Play & Physical Activity – the Five Ps, the API Chair will present thought-provoking evidence comparing UK planning policy for public play facilities with Sweden, where child health and wellbeing is better than in the UK, and asks what lessons can be learnt.

He says: “In Sweden, the public realm is planned to be child-friendly. Multiple play facilities and spaces are planned throughout a local community, with children actively encouraged to roam and play. Here in the UK, planning policy restricts children’s play to specific areas which discourages that freedom of movement. With a child obesity epidemic sweeping through UK society, perhaps it is time to rethink how we plan public play provision.”

Last month, the API urged the government’s Parks Inquiry to protect parks – and funding for them - because of the invaluable public service they provide for every part of society. In its submission to the Communities & Local Government committee, the association expressed its mounting concerns about the link between local authority budget cuts and dwindling opportunities for children to play and be physically active.

The API has also called for further levies on food and drink companies producing high sugar, salt and saturated fat products, particularly those targeted at children, to fund community facilities.

Mark Hardy says: “The government’s obesity strategy was short on brave measures. Companies that contribute to the obesity crisis should be forced to fund the solutions. Where physical inactivity is concerned, prevention is better – and significantly cheaper – than cure. The revenues required to provide every local community with high quality facilities for play and physical activity would be small compared to the significant benefits to child health and wellbeing, not to mention the wider social and economic benefits those facilities would bring.”

The API Chair takes the stage at SALTEX at 10am on 2nd November in Seminar Theatre 1. All seminars are free to attend and no pre-booking is required.

The API campaigns at the highest levels for policy recognition of the value of play, both in its own right and as a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood, Children’s Play Policy Forum and Federation of Sports and Play Associations.

SALTEX is the UK’s national event for grounds care, sports, amenities, estates and green space management and takes place at the NEC Birmingham on 2nd-3rd November.

For further information about the Association of Play Industries, contact: Deborah Holt, API Association Manager, tel: 024 7641 4999 or email


API Media Contact: Julie Parmenter, Elephant Creative, T: 01981 251820 / 07775 715936

Notes to editors:
The Association of Play Industries (API) is the lead trade body within the play sector and campaigns at the highest levels for policy recognition for play. Its members are leading manufacturers, installers, designers and distributors of both outdoor and indoor play equipment and safety surfacing. Founded in 1984, the API currently has 65 members.

Follow us on Twitter: @apiplay

The API operates under the umbrella of the Federation of Sports and Play Associations (FSPA), the national trade body responsible for representing 14 Associations in the UK’s sport and play industries.