“The cost of childcare is a big concern”

I recently wrote to town councils asking them about access and provision for disabled children in parks and play areas across the Stroud district.

It is clear from conversations with families that many children with disabilities do not enjoy attending play areas.

There are either few or no pieces of equipment they can use

One family told me that this means that their resilient children are not allowed to go to play areas as it becomes so unfair.

This is a very sad situation.

The letter hopes to build on my campaign to support Nailsworth’s Sebby Brett who has been told to get out of a wheelchair to prove he can walk to be allowed to go on a ride at Legoland.

The work with his mother Joanne has led to major changes in procedures and access to the Legoland and other parks owned by Merlin.

That success made me think about what was happening much closer to home on the back of what local parents of disabled children had told me.

The letter asks the councils if any playgrounds in the area need to be renovated so that I can work with them to ensure any funding.

I recently visited the Jubilee Playing Fields at Cam to meet with the board members and a company called Proludic who are designing the new playground there to discuss accessibility for all.

I also provided some funding options and a letter of support for a grant to receive lottery funding to Cainscross Town Council, so progress is being made.

In addition to this work, Stroud District Council is asking people for their opinion on how the 32 parks owned by the council can be improved. I will contribute and make the point about accessibility for disabled children.

As a community, I hope we can make progress in this area.

It cannot be right that young disabled people have such limited options when other playgrounds can be enjoyed.

The cost of childcare is a major concern, and I recently asked the Prime Minister about reducing costs.

Since then, the government has launched a media campaign to encourage parents to apply for the tax-free childcare scheme.

The scheme has underspent by billions over the past four years, and hundreds of thousands of families are thought to have not applied. In a time of rising costs, I urge parents to look into application. It will make a big difference.

There is more work to be done to reform childcare and make it affordable for families. Parents and early-year educators are also really stuck with the bureaucracy that no one helps. I called it a mess in parliament and it is an accurate description.

The think tank, Onward, is working with me and others on ideas to address childcare costs, hoping the government will come on board.

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