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Herald plays it safe

A campaign to bring easier access to council playgrounds for disabled youngsters has scored a success for the Herald Express.

The Torbay paper was handed an unexpected victory after the Government agreed to change access laws.

It means the lobbying from the Fair Play campaign can come to an end now that local authorities will have to assess all of their play facilities by 2004.

More than 560 people returned petitions published in the Herald Express while the campaign was under way.

Herald Express editor Brendan Hanrahan said: “A playground should be an inclusive place, not off-limits to children in wheelchairs – a place where able-bodied children can meet those with special needs and get to know them.

“We have argued, effectively it seems, that it would cost very little for local authorities to adapt new play equipment so children of all abilities could enjoy it.

“The success of the Fair Play campaign, led by former mayor Ann Williams and championed in the Herald Express proves that Government is not impervious to impassioned pleas and not so overwhelmed by the lofty affairs of state that it cannot recognize a good idea when it sees one.”

Torbay MP Adrian Sanders said: “Play is extremely important to a child’s development and I am thrilled at the Government’s response to this important legislation as it has gone further even than the Children with Disabilities Bill intended.”

The Bill has been officially withdrawn now that its aims are to be incorporated into existing legislation.

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