The boss of a playground equipment company based in East Lancashire is calling on councils to do better for their young people, after a study found some playgrounds in Britain are turning into ‘no-go areas’ for children.

Research from ESP Play, based in Burnley, found around half of children nationwide rarely or never visit playgrounds, while two of out five parents cite the poor condition of the equipment as the main reason for keeping their kids away.

Safety concerns are the biggest barrier for more than a third, while hygiene issues, including excessive dog mess, are the top worry for more than a quarter.

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ESP Play’s research also found one in three children have suffered an accident or injury that their parents state was due to poor quality or dangerous playground equipment.

Other obstacles include lack of suitable facilities like shade or seating, and fear of aggression from other children and parents.

The company said its findings demonstrated how sharply playground use has declined in a generation, with 75 per cent of parents saying they played in local parks at least once a week when they were their children’s age.

Half of those surveyed said they had seen drinking, smoking, or drug-taking at playgrounds, while 23 per cent said dangerous dogs had been seen at their local park.

Two out of three called for greater security such as fences and CCTV.

Andrew Wood, managing director of ESP Play, said: “We carried out this research to highlight how, as a nation, we are letting our children down by not giving them access to safe and enjoyable outdoor play spaces.

“It’s alarming to discover that half of all parents say that their children don’t go to a playground as well as the huge number of injuries from poor quality equipment.

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"Four out of five people said that poor equipment, maintenance or safety concerns stopped their children from playing.

"When playgrounds suffer from poor maintenance and safety hazards, we not only endanger children's physical safety but also impede their social and emotional development.

“Childhood is supposed to be fun and, by not giving our children the same opportunities we had, we risk damaging future generations.”

Professor Helen Dodd, a child psychiatrist and trustee of Play England, said: “Play is essential for a happy, healthy childhood.

“Having time and space to play gives children the opportunity to express themselves, to explore, to be physically active, to take risks and to have freedom to choose what they want to do.

"It is really important that children have access to good quality playgrounds.”

Fifty-four per cent of the 1,000 parents surveyed said local authorities should be doing more to maintain and improve playgrounds in their local area.