Row over housing association's child play letter
A row has erupted over a housing association’s letter to parents on an estate on Plymouth saying their children could not play on the streets.
Westcountry Housing Association wrote to the parents on the Greenbank estate last week – the week after schools’ broke up for summer.
Residents complained children were ‘playing football, riding bikes and scooters, and skateboards’ around the estate causing a nuisance.
Parents reacted angrily telling the local press their children had been ‘banned’ from playing on the estate.
The housing association says the letter was sent out to ensure the children’s safety so they did not play in the car park, and that it is an interim measure until they find the extra £28,000 they need for a new play area they are working on. The children can play on the grass area, a spokesperson pointed out.
Sue Edmans, neighbourhoods officer at the housing association, wrote: ‘Please can you ensure that your children do not play football, ride bikes/scooters or skateboard in the parking areas or in the pedestrian areas around Albertha Close/Seven Trees Court. They should be using the grass area to play on.’
She also said there had been reports other children who were friends of those living on the estate ‘causing problems’.
‘Any children or adults who are identified to the police or Westcountry Housing as living on the estate and causing anti-social behaviour will result in further action being taken for a breach of the tenancy agreement,’ Ms Edmans writes.
‘This will also apply to any visitors to a property on the estate who are causing a nuisance to residents.’
But consultant for children’s play Adrian Voce thought the letter was wrongly naming normal children’s play ‘anti-social behaviour’.
He said: ‘To have a social landlord saying children should not be out playing is an infringement of children’s rights and the wrong direction when we have children growing up with chronic obesity.
‘There’s no specific type of vandalism being referred to [in the letter]. The only nuisance was them [the children] outside playing as children. Children have always traditionally had the freedom to play outside their homes.’
Mr Vice also explained play areas were not suitable for all children and ages.
The parents told The Plymouth Herald that the designated grass area is often ‘full of dog mess and broken glass’ making it unsafe for their children to play in.
The housing association said work started on the play area last year but it has been boarded up since April 2011, after the organisation working on it went into administration. It said the playground was now back on track with staff looking for the additional funds to make up the £40,000 needed. Although, Westcountry Housing Association could not give any indication when the play area would be ready.