Edinburgh residents face £1500 fee to let kids play on street

ATTEMPTS to have regular temporary road closures so children have safe spaces to play are being frustrated by excessive costs, parents claim.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 12:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 1:59 pm
Edinburgh playing Out.

Children playing in the street in the Morningside area of Edinburgh
Edinburgh playing Out. Children playing in the street in the Morningside area of Edinburgh

Capital residents face charges of up to £1500 to shut their road for an afternoon – although similar play projects south of the Border can be staged at no cost.

A pilot car-ban for a couple of hours in Parkgrove Terrace, Clermiston, in October 2014 – which was given the go-ahead free of charge – was hailed as a success.

But when organisers tried to repeat the exercise they were told they would have to pay £900 for the council to put up barriers and around £600 to advertise the closure.

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Now residents’ group Edinburgh Playing Out is campaigning for the council to waive the high fees for temporary street closures.

Spokeswoman and mother-of-three Caroline Phipps-Urch said: “Playing Out is an idea that was born in Bristol and has been a great success in England and Wales.

“I’ve got lots of friends in London and they do it on a regular basis.

“They have to apply for a licence but it’s free. They just use their wheelie bins to close off the street.

“I live in a friendly street in Morningside and thought it would be a great idea. But here you can have one temporary road closure free, and after that it costs about £1500 a time.”

She said she hoped the issue could be resolved soon, adding: “We’re trying to organise something for the end of the Easter holidays in April when as many people as possible would close their road for a few hours at the same time.

“It means the children can play safely and adults can come along and chat. My neighbour who is 80 is looking forward to coming and sitting down for a cup of tea – she used to play in the street when she was young.”

Dad Thomas Lynch, who organised the pilot, said he would like to have the street closures on a more regular basis, possibly once a month.

He said: “The pilot was a great experience – we had about 13 kids, most of whom had never met each other. And the adults came together too. But as soon as there is a cost, people are not going to do it.”

He said it was hard to see why there was such a difference in practice north and south of the Border.

“It seems to be more or less the same legislation in England and Wales and here,” he said. “We don’t see why there should be a problem.”

Council play champion Keith Robson said he had been working with the Playing Out group.

He said: “I support the group’s aim to provide an opportunity for children to play out in a safe space. We’re looking at what we can do to facilitate it.”

He said he was still trying to clarify with officials why the costs appeared to be so high.