Influencing your council

When local councils are deciding how to spend money on parks and similar outdoor leisure facilities they must comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty.  From a perspective of achieving fairness between girls and boys in park provision, this means a local authority needs to think about:

  • the fact that current provisions (skate parks, pump tracks, MUGAs) are predominantly used by teenage boys;
  • the problem that providing only these facilities puts teenage girls at a disadvantage; and
  • how they can address this disadvantage.

See our blog here for more information about the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Unfortunately, many councils are not considering this. We don’t think it’s deliberate: we don’t think they set out to disadvantage teenage girls. It’s just that they don’t think about the issues.

So, what can you do when you see yet another council consultation about a new skate park or a proposal that a space be redesigned to include a football pitch and basket ball hoops, like this one? Or if you just want your council to think harder about what they are currently providing?

The first stage is to gather information. What outdoor facilities do the council provide for teenagers. Is it a skate park, a MUGA, some pitches and perhaps a pump track? If you can find out how much these cost, either by googling your way through the council website or asking, even better.

With that in hand, then the next step is to write to a local councillor or council official, or even both to point out the problem and the fact that they need to consider this on account of the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Who the right person is very much depends on the size of your council. For a small parish or town council, your local councillor is probably fine. In city councils, there will probably be a councillor with particular responsibility for parks and open spaces, and probably a council officer too. Please feel free to send them a link to our downloadable research document too.

In many instances this should be enough to open a conversation about how to make parks more welcoming to teenage girls. Plenty of councils are very open to the idea that the under-provision of facilities for teenage girls is something they need to consider.

If, however, you are unlucky enough to get the other kind of council, then our next steps page tells you how to take things further with a Freedom of Information request.

Please do keep us updated with how you get on. In particular, if you collect any data about what facilities are available in your local area and how much they cost, we’d love to know, and you can do this via our contact form.