Scotland’s councils have been urged to tear down “No Ball Games” signs to encourage children to do more exercise.
The plea to remove the killjoy signs which are still a feature of many public parks and spaces has been made by SNP MSP Ruth Maguire.
Ms Maguire believes the signs are “anti-fun” and argues that getting rid of them will encourage children to play more ball sports and thereby improve their physical and mental health.
“It’s really sad to see a no ball games sign, particularly on a piece of pristine grass perfect for playing on – no ball games, no play, no fun,” Ms Maguire said.
“But it’s time we changed our approach and started encouraging our children to use the green space we have in our communities, rather than cordoning it off and preventing them from having fun.
“Opening up the vast swathes of land that currently have the ‘No Ball Games’ restrictions on them can transform our communities and give our children and young people the chance to enjoy our neighbourhoods that little bit more.
“We are rightly trying to improve mental and physical health in our young people – and taking steps such as this to make them more active can be instrumental in leading that change, as initiatives like the Daily Mile have already been.”
She added: “It’s time councils ended their No Fun policies, recognised the importance of play for children’s development, tore down No Ball Games signs across the country and let kids enjoy themselves.”
Five years ago the then Children’s minister Aileen Campbell suggested the signs should be taken down saying children has just as much right to use public spaces as every other member of society.
She said at the time: “Through the play strategy and action plan, I want to see children play outside more often. We need to encourage our children to get outside and to start exploring the often wild open spaces that Scotland has in abundance. We must change the culture of the perception of children as a problem in public spaces, characterised by the No Ball Games signs we still see in communities, and we must reinforce the message that children have the same right to use public spaces as every other member of society.”
The suggestion was taken up by some councils, including Aberdeen City Council. In Aberdeen, the former Scotland striker Denis Law began the process of removing hundreds of “No Ball Games” signs.
In 2015 Mr Law brought former English internationalist Mike Summerbee to his home town to take part in the initiative which was spearheaded by the charity Aberdeen Greenspace. The initiative was in partnership with the local authority.
An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman said: “We would not enforce ‘No Ball Games’ signs any more. But we would urge people to play responsibly.”