- If you’re going to enjoy your right to play, rest and enjoy your free time, there need to be places you can go to do this
- Access to places and activities depends on lots of decisions made by adults
- Your views and opinions should be listened to when decisions are being made about places to play
Having places to go to are an important part of your right to play and relax. This right in the UNCRC is not just about ‘playing’ either, but about taking part in cultural experiences – things like going to the theatre and concerts and visiting museums. The Welsh Government has promised to consider the UNCRC every time it makes a decision. Local Authorities also make lots of decisions about the area where you live. These decisions can affect whether you have enough places to play and how you can get to those places. These decisions can be about where to build houses, where to make new roads and decisions about public transport. They can also be decisions about how the local authority spends money and whether it invests in resources for young people or in something else. When a local authority makes these decisions, it should think about the UNCRC and your rights.
A decision about where to put a new road could affect somewhere where you go in your free time. A decision about how to spend money could mean that a youth centre you go to could close down or that equipment isn’t updated as often as it should be, because the money is spent on something else. A decision to build a new housing development should take into account where children or young people who live there will be able to spend time. In Wales, when a public organisation like the local council makes a decision like this, it should take into consideration how the decision will affect children and young people.
Other decisions that can affect where you play are decisions that your parents or the people who look after you make about where they want you to play (or where they don’t want you to play). If an adult has a responsibility to make sure you are kept safe, they should think about where you want to go and play and whether it is safe to let you go there, especially if you want to go on your own. As you get older, you should be allowed to go to more places on your own, and have responsibility for making your own decisions about where is a good place for you and where you will be safe.
If you think the people looking after you are being unreasonable about where you are allowed to go you can try and talk to them to make them change your mind. If this is difficult, you might be able to get another adult to help you have the conversation. This could be a relation, a family friend, a teacher a youth worker, or a social worker.
Most decisions by public organisations, like the local authority, give people the chance to give their opinion before the decision is made. Anyone can be involved in this consultation. If a decision is going to be made that affects a place where you go to relax and spend time, you can write or email the organisation and tell them what you think. You can find out which is your local council here.
If there is going to be a change to the way land is used, there should be a planning application. A notice about this should be displayed where the land is, with details about how you can find out more and how to give your views to the local authority which will make the decision about the change.
If there is no planning application but you are worried about something, you could contact your local councillor, your Assembly Member (AM) or Member of Parliament (MP) – these are all people who are elected to represent the views of people who live in a particular area, and should be interested in your views . If you don’t know who to contact, you can find out:
Who your Local Councillors are https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-councillors
Who your AM is http://senedd.assembly.wales/mgFindMember.aspx
Who your MP is http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
If a decision has been made by a Local Authority that has an effect on where you go to play or relax or spend your free time, you will be able to use the complaints procedure to say why you think the decision is wrong. If you think the public authority has thought about the wrong things when it made its decision – or didn’t think about things it should have done – you could make a complaint to your Local Authority. If you think the Local Authority hasn’t dealt properly with your complaint, or if it doesn’t give you an answer within 12 weeks, you can ask the Local Government Ombudsman to look at what has happened. It may also be possible to bring a legal challenge using a procedure called judicial review.
If you can’t solve your problem through the Local Authority complaints procedure or through the Local Government Ombudsman and want to think about legal action for judicial review, you will need to take legal advice. You may be able to get some help from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Some firms of solicitors will give you some free advice to start with. You should try and find a solicitor with experience of public law or judicial review. The Law Society can help you find a solicitor with the right kind of experience to help you.
You may find that you can’t enjoy some facilities as easily as other children and young people. These places might be too far away, or there might not be good roads or public transport to get there. The Government and local authorities in Wales should think about this when they are planning where to build new facilities, how to spend money on road improvements, or when they are organising public transport services.