Councils should remove ‘No Ball Games’ signs and let children play

SNP MSP Ruth Maguire writes about the campaign to remove ‘No Ball Games’ signs and let children play.

No play, no fun. That is exactly the message that No Ball Games signs send to our children.


They are signs of boredom, another brick in the wall preventing young people from enjoying their childhood, from getting outside and being active – but councils have a great opportunity to change that.


Play is an essential part of every child’s life, and it is vital for the enjoyment of childhood as well as for children’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.

We are rightly trying to improve mental and physical health among young people, to tackle obesity and to make sure our children have happy and fulfilling experiences growing up. Taking steps to make them more active can be instrumental in leading that change, as initiatives like The Daily Mile have already been in getting children across Scotland to be active by walking or running a mile every day.

Removing ‘No Ball Games’ signs could have a similarly transformative impact – that’s why I am leading a campaign to call on all councils to do just that.

With 2018 marking the 20th anniversary of our national play charity, Play Scotland, it’s a perfect time for all councils across Scotland to tear down ‘No Ball Games’ signs and encourage more children and young people to get outside and play.

Anti-play ‘No Ball Games’ signs have no place in Scotland’s commitment to play – epitomised in the Scottish Government’s Play Strategy and the charity Play Scotland’s own Play Charter.

It’s time councils ended their No Fun policies, recognised the importance of play for children’s development, tore down No Ball Games signs across the country and let kids enjoy themselves.

Ruth has been a Play Champion since being elected in 2016. In March 2017, she led a Holyrood debate celebrating and welcoming Scotland’s first Play Charter, written by Play Scotland describing a collective commitment to play for all babies, children and young people in Scotland in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which also builds on the Scottish Government’s own Play Strategy which launched in 2013 – putting children’s right to access play and activity firmly within the Getting It Right For Every Child approach.