Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Where DO the children play?

In front of where I live there is a small green, owned by the council. As you would expect in a built-up area, it is well used by local children, who throng on it, particularly in summer, when they play football and, when there's a test match on the TV, cricket.

In the middle is a sort of village sign which says Adastral Village, as I recall. Recently someone nailed a small, red sign to it. Quarantined with flu to the upper storey of my house, I could only guess at what this sign might say. I bet that says "no ball games", I thought wearily. I got my binoculars out yesterday for a look and, yes, it says "no ball games".

I will have to look into why the council has decided to put this sign up - as soon as I am well enough to do more than tap out the occasional blogpost. But I basically think it is stupid. Were I well enough I might sneak out in the night and pin up an additional sign which could say 'Dogs' toilet only' as that is the other main use for this small patch of grass.

If people are worried about children being knocked down by passing motorists (a road rings this green), they could, instead of forbidding their games, put up a sign saying 'Drive slowly, children at play'. That way, motorists might also avoid the dogged skateboarders and the ramps they build in the road.

Then, if people are actually worried about children's welfare, they could put some dog litter bins at each end of the green and a sign saying that owners allowing their dogs to crap on the grass must pick it up, or be fined if they don't.

If people were actually worried about children's welfare, they would encourage them to play ball games; there is scant open space around Burnt Oak/Colindale for games. Especially since Grahame Park open space is now and for the foreseeable future a building site, while it is made smaller but 'enhanced' to make way for more flats.

But then I suspect that the people who put this sign up are not worried about children's welfare and only regard them as a nuisance. What 'No ball games' actually means, but they are not allowed to write it, is 'No children'. Now, I am not fanatical about children, and have had run-ins (though remarkably few) with some of the local kids but I do recognise that they have human rights to move about relatively freely, and to develop their physical, emotional and social capacities, just as I was allowed to. Playing ball games on a patch of grass overlooked by adults who have a stake in their healthy development could be one way to do that. Unfortunately, such opportunities are rarer and rarer.

The chopping down of the trees on Grahame Park open space was depressing; this 'No ball games' sign is a daily provocation to me; if Barnet council plans to whittle away any more of our precious green spaces (not Green Belt, but precious green space nonetheless) I might just find myself chained to a bulldozer in the near future... if I can just shake this flu.

1 comment:

Rog T said...

Interesting point there. Chopping down trees in Grahame Park and planting them on Edgware Road

Goes back to what I was saying about the way barnet plan these things.