‘No ball games’ signs could vanish from Scotland

Signs like these could soon vanish from Scotland in order to encourage outdoor activity for children. Picture: Complimentary
Signs like these could soon vanish from Scotland in order to encourage outdoor activity for children. Picture: Complimentary
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SIGNS banning children from playing in residential areas could be removed to encourage outdoor activity, according to a Scottish Government minister.

The “no ball games” message acts as a signal that young people are a problem, children’s minister Aileen Campbell told parliament.

“I want to see children play outside more often, we need to encourage our children to get outside and start exploring the often wide open spaces that Scotland has in abundance,” she said.

“We must change the culture of children being perceived as a problem in public spaces, characterised by the ‘no ball games’ signs we still see in communities, and reinforce the message that children have the same right to use public spaces as every other member of society.”

SNP backbencher Mark McDonald backed the suggestion, calling the signs a deterrent to outdoor play which, in many cases, “should now be removed”.

Ms Campbell was opening a two-and-a-half hour long parliamentary debate seeking support for the Government’s “play strategy”.

She told MSPs: “The word ‘play’ belies its seriousness as a topic and its crucial importance to the very fabric of society.

“It’s not something that is airy-fairy or frivolous. It’s a fundamental part of childhood and crucial for the positive outcomes of our nation’s future.”

The SNP administration’s overall strategy is backed by other parties at Holyrood.

Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “It goes without saying that play is part of the general wellbeing of each child and it’s also essential to the social, economic and environmental well-being of the nation at large.”

Labour’s Jayne Baxter said she takes pride in watching her grandchildren play.

“I can say with certainty that play is a serious subject,” she told Parliament.

The Scottish Government published its strategy in June and set out its action plan this week.