Leeds nostalgia: Call to make playgrounds safer with new EU rules

Ian Burks, campaigner for safer playgrounds after his son was killed in an accident, stands in an unsafe playground in  Meanwood, Leeds.
Ian Burks, campaigner for safer playgrounds after his son was killed in an accident, stands in an unsafe playground in Meanwood, Leeds.
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Dateline: August 2000: New European Union rules came into force, compelling councils to make playgrounds safer by installing soft flooring around swings and slides.

Up to that point, almost all playgrounds in Leeds had concrete floors.

Safety campaigner of the time, Ian Burks, from Ireland Wood, whose 16-year-old son Simon died after falling from a swing onto concrete, said he had been warning the council for some time and that it was a shame they had removed the equipment.

He said: “They have refused time and against to act upon what I have been telling them about their play areas. They should be ashamed. The upshot is that many areas now don’t come up to scratch in safety terms and will have to lose equipment or, I believe, be completely emptied.”

In response, the council said it was ensuring all its playgrounds met the new regulations and it there was still a chance funding could be found to upgrade some sites.