Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee

Agenda Item 66(c)


Subject:                    Deputations


Date of meeting:    18 January 2022



A period of not more than fifteen minutes shall be allowed at each ordinary meeting of the Council for the hearing of deputations from members of the public.  Each deputation may be heard for a maximum of five minutes following which one Member of the Council, nominated by the Mayor, may speak in response.  It shall then be moved by the Mayor and voted on without discussion that the spokesperson for the deputation be thanked for attending and its subject matter noted.


Notification of one Deputation has been received. The spokesperson is entitled to speak for 5 minutes.


(1)         Play area refurbishments


A significant £3 million investment in the infrastructure of 45 play areas addresses urgent need to replace, upgrade and maintain facilities (Open Spaces, 2017). We welcome investment in play areas as an essential resource for early years learning and leisure activity, activities by rights guaranteed to all children and young people (CYPs) (UN Convention on Rights of the Child Articles [UNCRC] 28 & 31). However, the process of consultation regarding these refurbishments is exclusionary, unequal and fails democratic process (Appendix 1). It fails to meet engagement requirements to involve ‘residents, park users and other interested parties’, risking widening health inequalities and poor physical and mental health outcomes for CYPs. We call to uphold Brighton & Hove’s values as a city that welcomes residents’ input and collective caring for its assets; values health and wellbeing of all residents; and is committed to reducing health inequalities. Processes should uphold city codes of practice on consultation (where spending exceeds £500,000) to avoid wastage. We call to uphold Council’s own standards for consultation and assure the integrity of play areas as essential, accessible resources for all children and families.

Refurbishments of this scale, with implications for a whole generation’s physical and mental health, requires effective consultation with a diverse appropriate range of stakeholders of all ages, abilities and locations across the city. This has demonstrable not happened with a ‘patchy-touch’ approach relying on ‘Friends of’ groups in select areas (Appendix 2). Office Reports have not been forthcoming. A special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) working group established by requirement for ETS approval has been unable to significantly affect specifications or design. Requests for information about implementation of ‘inclusive design’ have been denied with only illustrations offered on social media provided. Feedback from residents and councillors of insufficient provision for older children, with fears for antisocial behaviour in absence of leisure alternatives, has not resulted in amendments to designs, resulting in inequalities in provision for older children and impacting the security of all residents. CYPs’ rights to ‘express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously’ have been denied (UNCRC 12). CYPs have not been meaningfully consulted even ‘light touch’, with the only major online consultation formatted inaccessible to CYPs and no engagement with Youth Council. Reliance on ‘Friends of’ parks groups widens inequalities which have been identified as needing diversification (Groundwork UK, 2021). The process excludes established stakeholders that serve CYPs effectively (community fora, parent-carer groups, specialist schools and childcare facilities, Youth Council) where CYPs and carers concentrate their time and resources, contributing to democratic exclusion. Children and families with SEND have been especially failed by the current process.

As well as upholding the city’s own standards, consultation should meet UNICEF (2020) criteria for designing child-friendly spaces particularly those lacking: strategic orientation, collaboration, efficacy review and Participation and identification. We aim for communities to be engaged and funding best spent for areas with lasting play appeal within the challenges of managing maintenance. Communities should feel listened to as ‘expert users of play areas’. We call for 6 corrections (Appendix 3): (1) Pause, Reflection and Change to consultation to address identified failures using range of time allocated to refurbishments. (2) Pause refurbishment programme while above is undertaken. (3) Comprehensive and equitable consultation with an appropriate range of stakeholders and communication of consultation outcomes. (4) Stronger utilisation of existing feedback mechanisms such as SEND groups and use of portal mechanisms (5) Creation of an Advisory Team of key stakeholders including community leaders, health and wellbeing advisors, SEND representatives, the city’s Youth Council and experts by experience (6) development of a strategy to effectively communicate with residents including CYPs with or without SEND, about changes to their essential services.


Supported by:

Lisa Creagh

Neil Man

Dr Rebecca Graber (Lead Spokesperson)

Philippa Hodge

Dr Bruno De Oliveira

Kate Bloc