London residents are calling the police on neighbours who allow their children to play out, according to a Guardian survey.
“Do your children face problems playing outside?”
The Guardian invited responses to this question from its readers and among the hundreds of replies “a number of people reported warnings from authorities or threats from neighbours.”
In Waltham Forest one parent received repeated council warnings and a visit from the police for allowing her children to play in space designed as a low traffic “parklet” by the council. In a video promoting the design – which won an environmental award last year – children are shown playing in the space. In a statement Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, the cabinet member for community safety, pointed to nearby parks that were available and said: “Everyone deserves to expect peace and quiet in their homes, especially late in the evening. We will work to balance the right for children to play in their neighbourhood with the right for others to feel safe and comfortable in their own home.”
In Newham, east London, Ilona Saber said she faced opposition from neighbours and authority figures for allowing her young son to play on their quiet road while keeping an eye on him from home.
“Over the past couple of years I have had police knock on my door about reports my young son was in danger because he was playing near the house and then last summer Newham council street enforcement officers brought my son to my door because they saw him playing with friends near our house and were concerned.”
She said when she tried to bring a safe play area to an unused space on the street, neighbours fought to stop it. “I got council funding for some small play equipment for a little unused corner on our road. It was all ready to go. But neighbours wrote to our MP saying it would disturb their peace and they found a procedural issue with the consultation despite our efforts and the councils to involve people. Sadly they were able to stop it.”
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