Bernard Spiegal
72 Albert Palace Mansions
Lurline Gardens
London SW11 4DQ

29 November 2006

Dear Mr Spiegal,


Thank you for your further letter of 21 November about the Children’s Play programme.

Although my earlier letter answered the points you raise, I will take this opportunity to reiterate the rationale for the programme timetable.

As you know, the play sector has been waiting a long time for this funding. It was first pledged as a priority by the Labour Party before the 2001 general election, and we first announced our commitment to the programme in March 2005. I believe that this has given sufficient time to local authorities to develop play strategies, including giving them the option to bid to one of four application windows. In fact, the programme has allowed up to 18 months until the final application deadline in September 2007, which we believe is a reasonable and appropriate amount of time to develop play strategies.

As my earlier letter mentioned, we have had indications from both Play England and our survey that the majority of local authorities are working to this timeline. We want to keep this momentum going. In addition to Play England’s assistance in developing play strategies, we plan to provide further support to local authorities through our regional networks.

I am pleased that we are working towards a shared goal in ensuring that the focus and impact of the programme is not lessened and enhancing the value and status of Children’s Play.