Community led play being killed by over-regulation, claim Edinburgh Greens

Community-led initiatives for children are being killed by over-regulation, according to the Greens.

The Greens are highlighting that one of Edinburgh’s longest-running playgroups, Harrison Playgroup, is at risk of shutting its doors, such is the burden of extra work placed on the voluntary committee.

Co-convenor of Edinburgh Greens, Gavin Corbett, has had two children go through the playgroup.  His youngest son, Charlie, still attends and, indeed, features prominently in Liberal Democrat campaign literature, along with leader, Nicol Stephen, who visited the playgroup earlier in the year. 

Mr. Corbett said:

“Harrison Playgroup is a parent-led group which has run for 40 years with hundreds of children successfully passing through its doors.  However, new bodies like the Care Commission, have added hugely to the burden of work placed on volunteers and part-time staff.  This came to a head at the AGM last week the playgroup was unable to elect a new committee.

“Everyone accepts the need for some standards to be set to ensure child safety.  But these standards also have to be proportionate and recognise the small scale and informal environment which we are trying to create.

“Unless bodies like the Care Commission lighten up, it could be the death-knell for voluntary and community-based schemes like these.”

Mr. Corbett has contacted the Children’s Commissioner, Kathleen Marshall, to ask her to investigate over-regulation.

Outgoing Playgroup Chair, Jane Thain, added:

“I took over as Chair to help run a community playgroup and it is now being forced to become something more ‘formal’ – an early-years educational establishment.  We want to remain a community playgroup – a group of parents wanting to give each other a break and give our children a chance to stand on their own two feet for a couple of hours, in a safe, happy environment, with the opportunities to enjoy some fun playtime and perhaps learn a few things in passing.�


1. Photographs of Nicol Stephen’s visit to the Harrison playgroup feature in the Liberal Democrats’ “family manifesto” and in material issued by Edinburgh Central parliamentary candidate, Siobhan Mathers.

See second photo down.

2. A small parent—led playgroup like Harrison, providing play two hours a day, has to be accountable to at least 5 bodies: the Care Commission, the City Council, Disclosure Scotland, the Scottish Pre-School Play Association, and the Scottish Social Services Council.  Among the requirements are business plans, risk assessments of buildings, personal development plans, annual appraisals for play-workers, and detailed guidelines for food preparation.