Local people are been asked if Richmondshire play areas should be designated 'smoke free' zones.
Currently there are no rules preventing people lighting up in or near children’s playgrounds. But with the number of people who smoke dropping dramatically the District Council wants to gather views on whether measures should be introduced to discourage smoking near these areas.
A survey has been launched which will run until the end of October – after which the council will consider bringing in changes.
Richmondshire has around 80 play parks which are managed and maintained either by the district council, community groups or local parish councils.
“Smoking in family-friendly areas sends a message that tobacco is a common part of life rather than a deadly addictive drug,” said Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Ian Threlfall.
“Alongside this, cigarette butts can take up to 12 years to biodegrade, posing a danger to animals and young children who may ingest them. And there can be litter issues too - boxes, cellophane, lighters, matches, matchboxes, paper or pouches - that blight our parks and playgrounds and cost money to clean up. We want to know what local people think about creating a clean, smoke free environment around our play areas.”
On top of the questions around smoking the survey is also asking for views on dogs being exercised near these areas, dog fouling, noise, intimidation, and if alcohol consumption and litter is an issue.
The council can introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to reduce incidents causing concern – and which give the police power to fine offenders or take them to court in serious incidents.
The survey is available http://www.richmondshire.gov.uk/survey/play and in hard copy at council offices in Richmond, Hawes, Colburn, Reeth and Leyburn.