This is an alert. An alert to all those – across Europe and wider – where European play equipment and surfacing standards are held, or will be held, to apply. A new Standard is being proposed, one that will further undermine play provision.
The particular proposed change I focus on here (there are others) aims to introduce a requirement for onsite testing of playground surfaces, in particular, synthetic ones, for example, rubber.
The proposed changes – designated (prEN 1176-1:2016 (E)) – if implemented, will have an entirely negative effect on play provision, piling on significant additional costs or, in an effort to avoid additional costs, providers may well feel compelled to close or further dumb down existing provision.
To demonstrate the scale of the potential increase in costs, one local authority has calculated that an additional annual amount of £400,000 would be required if the proposed change to the Standard is implemented. Continue reading
I accept that at first blush it might seem odd to link words such as play, children, teenagers, risk-taking to the international trade talks currently being conducted between the European Union and the United States of America. But there is a link, and it is potentially a threatening one. The talks, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), has as its general aim the lowering of what are described as ‘barriers’ to trade between, in this case, the EU and the USA.
One aspect of the so-named ‘barriers’ are Standards. Standards in respect of, among others things: environmental protection; specification of electrical goods; of additives to food; in respect of cosmetics and testing; and standards in respect of, well, play equipment and playground surfacing.
The TTIP negotiations are conducted in virtual secrecy – itself a major source of concern – but Greenpeace has managed to acquire confidential papers that reveal, in part at least, the state of play between the parties. The now released confidential papers are, says Greenpeace, at some variance from the EU’s publicly expressed opinion. Part of what is revealed is the US demand that the EU be put under an obligation to inform the US, in advance, of any planned regulations and to allow them the same ‘input into EU regulatory processes as European firms’ (Source: Guardian. 2 May). Continue reading
From a simple humanitarian perspective, it’s easy to be outraged at some countries’ response to the current refugee crisis. The UK’s response is, I think, simply shameful. And, once again, from a straightforwardly humanitarian view, Hungary’s response is both cruel and brutal. These sentiments are easy to feel, and as easy to express.
But from a different perspective, the ‘refugee crisis’ throws light on some of the fault lines inherent in, and dangers attending, the project known as the European Union (EU) as currently conceived.
The EU has as one of its core aims the ‘Harmonisation’ of policies and practices across its member states. Though a term used in particular in respect of trade relations – the aim of removing trade ‘barriers’ – it is applicable to a wide swath of policies agreed or imposed on its members.
Interesting word ‘harmonisation’. The image it conjures, and no doubt is designed to evoke, is that of unity, one formed of divergent tones, pitches, individual and unique features to become, as the dictionary has it, ‘in agreement’, ‘justly proportioned’, ‘concordant’, ‘congruous’. Continue reading
I need to alert readers to a real and present danger.
Before proceeding, however, I enter a plea. A plea that you stick with this article despite the fact that the subject may – until now – have been a turn-off. I say again: I am about to speak about a real and present danger.
The subject is play provision Standards, in this case a new Standard in respect of IAS (Impact Absorbing Surface) being proposed by ASTM’s (American Society for Testing and Materials) playground surfacing committee.
Do not imagine that any changes will affect only the USA. Eventually, the likelihood is that they will affect Standards across national boundaries. Continue reading