When I went to Battersea Park park earlier, I wasn’t expecting the two police vans. Or the two further events police vans that decided to show up.
Has somebody been naughty? Asked the children. Are they going to get taken away?
There were signs up around the play area, notes from children, petitions, and flyers. Why was there such a commotion? Because Occupy London had decided to step in and help along side Wandsworth Against Cuts.
Along with rallying up the public for support, they had set up tents in the Adventure Playground to prevent it from being Bulldozed today. They moved in on Saturday 5th.
After I had a chat with one of the protesters, the police made us leave the park for our ‘safety’ whilst they went for an apparent chat with the occupants of the Adventure Playground. Well done police, four police vans and now upset children. You’re doing well. Could you have not waited until the park was not busy? 3.30pm in the afternoon was not a wise choice.
I’ll give you the background story. There is a fabulous Adventure playground in Battersea, it has been there many years and has helped children grow up through their teenage years (13 – 16 years) in a safe environment away from gangs and crime. However unfortunately, the cuts have started to have a bigger impact. Firstly, they decided to charge £2.50 at weekends for children to use the Adventure playground. For those in the estates of which there are many in the area, this fee just to allow your children to play was far too high, especially for those with more than one child. After protests, the council decided to have a rethink.
As it is an Adventure playground, it is staffed. This is the main problem in regards to the lack of money. The staff make sure all the children are safe, apply first aid training, provide activities, look after everyone and make it fun. Without them, the playground is unable to be run as the challenging equipment needs to be supervised.
At the end of September last year, the staff were cut and the playground shut down. We were promised a new playground. What most didn’t realise was, the staff aren’t coming back. The council are replacing the fantastic playground with a safer, non challenging playground which doesn’t need to be staffed.
Now, if you have any children between the ages of 13 – 16 years, you are well aware that ‘safe’ is not as fun as ‘adventure’. There are plenty of parks where children can play on the swings and monkey bars. What was keeping these children happy was the challenge, the adventure and the learning. Play needs to be fun and challenging, not met with the drones of ‘I’m bored!’. People came from all over London to visit this Adventure Playground and it was loved and used by many.
So please help in anyway you can, make a poster to be displayed, share this post and links, and sign the petition!