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|Children pushed off swings by EU
By Simon de Bruxelles
Times of London
January 21, 2003
PLAYGROUNDS are under threat from EU regulations which condemn most items of equipment that are more than five years old. The warning came after children in the Wiltshire village of Great Somerford were banned from playing on some swings on which there has been no recorded injury in 25 years of use.
The three seats and their chains were removed by the parish council after a safety inspector reported that the swings did not comply with EU rules because the frame was 60cm (2ft) higher than the 3m (10ft) limit. The ruling has angered councillors who will need at least £1,500 to replace them.
European Standard BS EN 11 76 was introduced in 1999. This is the first time the playground at Great Somerford has been checked since then.
Although the standards are not enforceable by law, the parish council is concerned that its insurers could refuse to pay in the event of an accident.
Toby Sturgis, council chairman, said: Generations of children have played on those swings with no trouble at all, but now someone, somewhere, has decided that they cant.
The tightly drawn regulations make it almost impossible for the council to adjust the swing to comply with the new standards.
If the triangular frame were lowered, the seats would be too close to the supporting bars and if the level of the ground were raised, it would also violate the rules.
Mr Sturgis said: It would be obvious to raise the level of the ground, but if you have a step up to it, apparently the children may trip on the step. It seems it is permissible for children to climb stairs at home but not in a playground.
If we lowered the frame, the swing seats would be too close to the frame.
Wicksteed Leisure, based in Kettering, Northamptonshire, says that many other playgrounds have been affected, although many councils have decided to take no action.
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