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back to article Watford council punts parents from playground

The final push toward state control of children began this week in Watford, as the Council declared two adventure playgrounds were no-go areas for parents. Council rules excluding adults apply to two undercover play areas - Harwoods and Harebreaks. Early reports suggested that parents now needed to be CRB checked in order to …

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I love living in the UK!

My local council cant' even the lazy sodding binmen to pick up rubbish properly or stop them slapping stupid yellow "This magazine type cannot be recycled. Please dispose of it properly." stickers all over our recycling, I am buggered I will trust the local council worker cum-"child-minder" to look after my kids, thanks!

Another great local service that will shut down through lack of use. Either that or the local lazy parents who can't be arsed to look after the cloven-hooved horde, to dump them on on this place and shirk any responsibility, leading to the place to have to be shut down!

So basically we're all filthy net-pirates, ripping off everything digital and we're all peados to boot!

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Anonymous Coward

Tony Blair OGC

The claim will be 'insurance risk', and it will be insurance risk because if Bob knocks over one of the kids and they scuff their knees then Brenda, his mother, will sue the nursery using SlimeyMcSlime the contingency lawyer.

i.e. the problem is no win no fee lawsuits. (I'd prefer to see 'no money down' replace it), and the insurance companies protecting themselves from them.

Another Blair introduction to the UK, and another reason not to make him the EU President when people don't want him, even his own party!

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Anonymous Coward

The world has truly gone mad

*shakes head*

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FAIL

She is correct.

"There is growing suspicion and lack of trust. Do we really want to increase the number of spaces where parents are forced to hand over family relationships to officials."

She is absolutely correct. Schools should be burnt to the ground immediately. Any after-school activity or social group such as cubs, brownies, guides, and scouts, should be destroyed. Nasa should nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

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I can see both sides of this

"If adults are on site, it prevents them looking after the children, as they have to spend time managing the adults, which is not their job."

Fair point. Socialising is a large part of the experience for adults taking kids to the playground, so it's easy to see how this would eat up a lot of staff time that might be better spent looking after the kids. Never applied to me of course...as a bloke -with a beard at that!- taking my kids to the playground during the day was an experience approximately akin to being black in Alabama in the 1930s. I took a book/laptop.

On the other hand...banned from site! No observation platform! Minders employed by a council! I can see the flaws there. It would be a huge exercise in trust and -for me- not something that I'd feel comfortable with.

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Big Brother

sounds familiar, unfortunately...

Wasn't a similar system employed in Germany in NSDAP and later (in the east) SED times? No matter what the political system might be (and whether an indoctrination will take place [perfect opportunity, isn't it?]), stopping parents to look after their kids is just somewhat against human nature.

But a least you don't h a v e to send your kids there.

Not yet.

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I'm getting old...

What the heck is the job of play workers? And I dare to ask what is a play worker? I can only imagine and while this does not deliver definite answers it leaves me with shudder.

Indeed I am very glad that I was raised in a time when we were aloud to play unattended. We were responsible for all the nasty and dangerous adventures we undertook and of our (wrong) doings we literally felt the consequences. The latter, as a matter of course, only if we got caught.

It may come to a big surprise to some younger generations that not that many of us died. Besides, being born in a time when one could shoot a whole film just by speeding through Paris* I'm not yet that old.

EA

*the capital of France - what did you think?!

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Stop

All hail the mad burghers of Watford!

I am told that in order to be a good parent to my children it is important that I spend quality time with them and engage in fun, constructive play activities with them.

Unless I live in Watford, in which case I have to hand them over to a bunch of people employed by local authority dimwits, who will play with them for me - let's hope they are all fully CRB checked so that their playing is of the constructive variety and not unneccessary...

Stop, just stop before any more moronic PC madness is inflicted upon us

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FAIL

Oh yes, the children will be so much safer

... six to one supervisor instead of a more usual two or three to one parent. Makes me so glad that a) I'm already CRB checked and b) I'm moving away from Watford in the near future.

Fail - because it's what Watford is full of. And hopefully what will happen to this latest scatterbrained scheme.

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The Solution?

Simple. Just have the government take away every child at birth, raise them in the correct way (as only they can, apparently), then return the "child" at the age of 18 - until then, there should be no contact with parents or other undesirables who don't have the necessary government approval to be near children.

This way, the government can know for sure that they don't get irreperably harmed by walking on the same street as someone who isn't CRB checked, and as a byproduct, they can indoctrinate the children into holding the same beliefs and values as the current administration, therefore providing loyal, unquestioning voters for future administrations.

Oh, and don't forget to tax us all for it heftily, whether we have children or not.... pretty please!

Or alternatively, any council who implements schemes such as this should in no uncertain terms be told to FOAD, and reminded that the state does NOT own us, or our children!

You work for US, motherfuckers, get it straight!

AC, since I don't want to "volunteer" for re-education....

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Transfer of responsibility

So these places are where children aged 5 to 15 get "managed" by council officials. Does this mean you could drop your five year-old off, then pick them up 10 years later, safe in the knowledge that they've been correctly "managed" in the intervening period?

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Anonymous Coward

Just...

...dont ever send your kids there! Simple... It'll close down soon enough if noone uses it.

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Stop

In defence of Watford Borough Council.

Some sicko did try to drag a kid into a car about 4 weeks ago, near the Vicrarage Lane site, so you can see what they were thinking. On the whole Watford Borough Council is a good one.

This thinking doesn't extend to parking regulations though, as they're consolidating a further education college, just yards from the town's most middle class family estate, and have mystically forgotten to plan for vehicles' parking.

This leaves all the students, just one place to park, in the estate with a school that's doubling in size. Fortunately, the estate is being perceived as being full of Tory & Lib Dem voters, and Clare Ward is Labour (despite her ££££ housing allowance & living just 13 miles as the crow flies from Westminster.)

It's only a matter of time, before some student, if they drive like I did at any rate, runs some infant school kid down and kills them.

I can't help thinking that instead of banning parents from looking after their own children, it would be simpler to provide a deterrent to child molesting, such as slowly torturing child molesters to death in front of baying crowds.

Though this may have fitted in some old council's masonic agenda, it doesn't fit in with most new councils' Common Purpose agenda.

Is the world becoming stupid what happens when you give women the vote? I can't say but I think it should be rescinded for a few years to find out.

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FAIL

So...

As a parent, what are you supposed to do if you don't like the idea of handing your kids over to a stranger you've never met before?

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Stop

Play

I guess the fact that I might want to do something as radical as actually play with my child is irrelevant.

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Well of course it's essential

You can't have children just going off and playing however they want without an official council-approved play worker telling them how to do it.

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Grenade

Thanks for the warning

"This was denied by a spokeswoman for the Council, who explained that it was simply inappropriate for parents to remain on site. She said: "These are places where children aged 5 to 15 may play freely."

Not mine, I'm afraid. Apart from anything else, as a parent I'm legally responsible for my small children. Council jobsworths are not.

Fucking arseholes.

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Terminator

Please don't go down the Daily Mail road

Their comment made total sense. Also its not much of an adventure is it if your Mum & Dad are there watching what you do. There was a time when parents didn't need to be told to not come to an adventure playground - kids went there or to the park or the woods - *Just with other kids* . I don't remember ever seeing any parents when I was out playing - unless I went to someone's house. We would always go somewhere where parents were not. I didn't need a council playground as there was a huge gravel pit nearby where you could swim & ride about on all the great machinery & conveyor belts - and get a good chase off the guys who worked there when they spotted you!

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FAIL

This is no surprise

For years, parents have been bleating that Something Must Be Done every single time there was a story about a poor little child being hurt or killed or abused. Someone Must be to Blame and Someone Must be Vetted. Someone Must be Prevented from Being with Children. Just think of the children.

For years, men have been the scapegoats here. You know, the man who lives by himself and that must be odd, mustn't it? He must be a pervert so stone his house. Then there is the man who wanted to be a teacher. Why would a man want to work around children? He must be a pervert so he should be accused and sacked. Or what about the man who helps a lost child. He has to be a pervert, so he should be accused and imprisoned. It didn't matter that these men weren't guilty. It didn't matter that most of the people who abuse children are family members. No, it didn't matter because they weren't the people calling for Something to Be Done. Everything that happened to them happened to someone else.

Now the suspicion is spreading, though. Women are no longer seen as innocents. More to the point, parents are no longer immune. Everyone is a suspect now. Except for the Vetted Elite. I predict that in the future, outside the home, no-one will be allowed contact with children except for the Vetted Elite. They won't just have to pass a CRB check and an ISA check, but dozens of new checks. After a time, it will be clear that none of these checks prevent anything, of course, but that won't bring down the system. To prevent anyone from questioning the system, the Powers that Be will cover up anything their Vetted Elite do. Accusations against the Vetted Elite will not be heard.

This isn't madness, though, but the logical outcome of the demands made by the Something Must Be Done crowd. They weren't able to accept that abuse mainly is carried out in the family, so to speak, that is, broken families 'headed' by single mothers who bring a series of 'uncles' into their children's lives. They weren't able to accept that for freedom to exist, one must accept the bad along with the good. No, they demanded security, absolute safety for their precious little children. They screamed and shouted that their children were 'entitled' to have nothing bad ever happen to them, be it a sniffle or what passes for abuse these days. They were egged on by the media and pandered to by the government. Now the monster has taken over and now they don't like it. Too bad. Maybe they should have thought about that when they were screaming for the lives of others to be ruined.

You can either revolt against it or leave. There's no other choice. Whining just won't help, although the British are such great whiners. I left because I grew tired of trying to fight those who shouted 'But what about the children?' I hope those who are left like their Alcatraz, because a great deal of them are those who demanded it.

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M7S
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Undercover Play Areas?

If you go down to the woods today...

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So very wrong...

So if there's an incident (or accident) to which the council staff are not trained or they refuse due to health and safety issues then what are they going to do?

If a child hurts themselves they are instictively going to find their parents.

Methinks this is actually a move to reduce the use of the land so they can sell it to developers....

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FAIL

Re : kissingthecarpet

You and I were brought up in a different time and environment. We used to play freely and get injure. We called these incidents 'accidents'. As long as the blood didn't spurt, well not much anyway, and no bits of bones were sticking out we just got on with it.

Now, because of the fear of pedo's, we look after our kids. _WE_, the parents and grandparents supervise our families.

So if council Jobsworth demands that I cannot enter the adventure playground, then he/she/it is totally responsible for my little darlings and remember I now have the wonderful weapon in that I WILL SUE YOUR ARSE OFF! So it's not going to be much of an adventure in that frigging playground is it?

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Just say No

Sensible parents just won't use these things, so hopefully the Inclusive Community Recreational Outreach Coordinators will soon be back on the dole...

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No story here...

This is a non-story and I have to agree with the Council spokesperson. The facility is a bring-your-kids-and-leave one, there are others like this so what's the big deal?

I can fully understand that having parents around would stop the playworkers doing their job.

If the ONLY places the Council created for kids to play were like this then perhaps there would be an issue but that isn't the case.

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In Other News

Following on from the success of the CRB checks, the government has announced that motorists can apply for a 'non-speeding' certificate, which can be used to demonstrate to prospective employers and insurance companies that the holder has never exceeded the speed limit. Obviously this is only available to those without a prior speeding conviction.

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@KitBarker

"If the ONLY places the Council created for kids to play were like this then perhaps there would be an issue but that isn't the case."

And the Spokeswoman says:

"There were other "similar" venues for children to play in, including parks and community centres – although the facilities on offer at these were not identical to those offered in the adventure play centres.

She did, however, confirm that the Council did not run other facilities of this type that parents could access freely."

So as you can see, the ONLY places the Council created for kids to play ARE like this.......

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Big Brother

She said: "These are places where children aged 5 to 15 may play freely."

Plenty of recent cases of children of the upper end of this age range abusing younger kids. I assume that kids will soon also need to be CRB checked in order to play with their friends.

Perhaps we should just have a number of "year" islands where we ship kids off to - E.g. Year 10 Island (where all the 10 year olds go) then Year 11 Island and so on. No adults, no other potential risks. Until they reach 18 then they can come and vote in NuLabours Glorious Fourth Reich (Victory and Health).

Ah wait! "Lord of the flies"

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Alert

what did you expect?

your children R belong to US (the 'state'). let me remind you that you 'registered' (TM) your child to the state when it was born. so the state effectively owns said child, and may do as they wish with their property.

doubt what i say? then do some homework. legally, the act of 'registering' anything whatsoever is is literally handing over ownership.

everything you think you own that is registered (like your car and house) is actually legally owned by the entity to which it is registered (TM).

what did you expect?

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Go

@ Chris Elemes and others

"I have to hand them over to a bunch of people"

No. you don't HAVE to do anything like that. You can CHOOSE to take your child there, or you can play with it on your own time.

What kind of person takes their child to a facility, knowing the rules, then complains about them? Do you similarly park in disabled space at supermarkets despite not being disabled, demanding your right to use the facilities provided?

I have to wonder whether any of you people send your children to school. You know, that place where you do not supervise them from 8 am to 3:30pm, and where they run around in the playground for 90 minutes a day when not in lessons with sharp crayons and scissors and the school gerbil.

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Coat

The other side of the coin

Ask yourself; why don't parents want to just drop their kids off and leave them ?

The most logical reasoning would be that they either don't trust the kids themselves or the council staff employed to look after them. So it perhaps comes down to control freakery by the parents.

If the UK would get over its fear and paranoia which is like a cancer crippling the country, accept there's no such thing as risk-free, accept terrible and awful things will happen at times, that attempting to 'prevent at any price' just isn't worth the price, we'd have a much less dysfunctional and better, more wholesome society to start with.

We're descending into being a society where one will not interact with another human being unless they can prove they're vetted and safe to interact with. Everyone's a suspect, everyone guilty until proven innocent. It's a collective mental health problem.

Mine's the one with a bag of sweets and a puppy in the pocket.

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Confused

If your so worried about parents hanging around you could save lodsa money by just asking them to leave, if you use the word 'Please' this may help.

I'm amazed at this absolute nothing being blown out of all propotions by the council and my dark mind says the coucil sponsorded play techincians or what ever there called don't want parents seeing what there doing with there children and if i was a parent theres no way i would take my children there if i'm not allowed to make sure my kids are safe.

Oh and to the don't use it and it will shut lot, its council run , your taxes pay for it, if no children use it it'll still be there being paid for by your taxes.

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I think a point has been missed...

According to the Telegraph article unnamed councillors and Mayor Dorothy "Dotty" Thornhill claimed that the council were implementing government guidelines.

The ones that Ofsted aren't aware of...

Looks like a case of some local authority types getting a bit above themselves and playing the "the big boys done it and run away" card.

Look out for a very quiet back down.

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Anonymous Coward

@Matthew Glubb

You wanna PLAY with your child??? you sick fuck.Whats the world come to when people think they have the right to play with there children? are we that corrupted these days that we would even consider allowing that?

(sarcasm, or the thoughts of a council worker)

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FAIL

why???

I really don't understand both sides, but with 33 years I'm probably just too old. From age 6 or 7 on my parents would let me wander off alone with friends. And that was not to any supervised site, we were just out in the woods without any adult interference. My parents usually did not really know where I was and it was fine as long as I was home at the agreed time (of course I wasn't always on time, but my mum was very good at giving me a piece of her mind). Worked fine for me and was really not unusual. Most of my friends had the same freedom. Why is it a problem these days? Why do parents always have to be with their children not allowing them to breathe freely? And why does the council feel they have to look after children?

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@Sillyfellow

I've registered to The Register. Hence in your logic El Reg owns me. Well, they (guess who) censor me occasionally so you are probably right to some extent. But then again I registered to several other things - what if all start to claim ownership? Will they [insert torture of your choice] me apart?

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Non-story?

Kit, I really hope you are right. Oddly, a lot of parents (and kids) charities would disagree.

Over the last 10 years there has been a gradual demolition of barrier after barrier between state and parents. The current vetting/crb climate has virtually expelled parents from schools unless they are prepared to obtain a government certificate of child-worthiness...and this is an extension of that principle.

This, in Watford, is an instance of a PLAY facility only available to children on condition that parents hand them over to official workers. Yes: there are other similar facilities (like outside playgrounds... which stop being very interesting when it rains) and community centres.

But the principle breached here is that of parents and play and the demand that to access this particular sort of facility, the state takes control.

Now, if that were it, I would probably not mind. The fear, as with every aspect of child protection, is that every time the levels get ratcheted up, the latest exceptional case becomes the new norm.

So today, exclude parents from undercover play areas on the grounds that official workers can't be "managing parents": how long before some council somewhere decides to go the next step and require that the only adults in any play area are parents?

Its a steep and slippery slope, and we started down it a long time ago.

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Big Brother

@ AC 09:21 Re In defence of Watford Borough Council

"Some sicko did try to drag a kid into a car about 4 weeks ago, near the Vicrarage Lane site,"

Evidence?

Can't find anything about it on the Watford Observer site.

Basing judgments and Opinions on hearsay and rumour is the cause of these problems in the first place.

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Start with the *cause* of children

yet they let just anybody get pregnant....

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WTF?

Playground != Nursery

If they are offering child care then thats one thing...

If it's a play facility then parents are kind of essential part of play - or are we aiming for automons nowadays rather than people...

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WTF?

No thanks

I'd rather look after my own kids than somebody who's goal in life is to be an official at a kids playground.

Another reason not to visit Watford, then.

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Dead Vulture

Is the Register turning into the Daily Mail?

...and the comments are getting nearly as bad too.

Watford council's statement contains this sensible paragraph:

"If parents aren't happy leaving their children - there are lots of other options open to them. In the town, there are 4 community centres, 5 children’s centres, over 40 areas of park and playgrounds, as well as a museum, two libraries... These are also free to attend and open to everyone."

What's the problem? I take my child to nursery, and I am not allowed to stay there. I take my child to ballet classes, I am not allowed to stay there either etc etc

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Law
WTF?

RE: The other side of the coin

ODFO - Maybe the parent's don't want to leave their kids in the hands of people they don't know and therefore don't trust is just because they are being good parents!!

Also, and forgive me if I haven't learn to hate mine yet as my kid is only 6 months and therefore I'm a newish parent, but I'm guessing the parent's may actually want to spend time with their kids on their day off work, even if it is only watching them play with other kids in an adventure playground.

If the council offered a place to sit and watch but not interfere I'm assuming parents would be less bothered by it (glassed-off coffee shop?)... I go to a paid-fun-house with friends and their kids, adults usually sit and drink a coffee while watching their kids play, some adults (myself included) will help theirs or their friends kids through some of the more difficult bits.. nobody raises an eyebrow, and the park self-manages itself.

I'm just wondering, if you leave your kid at this place and are forced to leave them, an overworked worker there doesn't notice your child leaving through the front door (it happens, kids are quick and sneaky) - then the kid gets run over (it's busy london), or pulled into a car (as a commenter said recent attempt in the area) - exactly who is to blame? If there was a place to watch, you negate two problems - one, parents enjoy their kids, and like to watch them play - two, parents will more likely notice their child slipping out a door, and therefore the risks of kids going missing or getting out are minimised. Seems like a small change can solve a big issue here, whatever your reason for not liking the current system.

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Troll

For all you non-thinking headless chickens.....

If you can't be bothered to read the story properly, then go here; http://www.watford.gov.uk/ccm/content/strategic-services/home-page-content/statement-about-harwoods-and-harebreaks-adventure-playground.en

If you can't be bothered to follow the link then read below (taken from the site)

<><><><>

The press have inaccurately reported what Harwoods and Harebreaks are; they are not open public facilites. They never have been. They are closed, fully supervised facilities.

They are no different to other fully supervised facilities, like schools, playgroups or nurseries - where adults are not allowed to stay.

Parents and carers are, of course, welcome to bring their children safely into the sites and settle them in.

If parents aren't happy leaving their children - there are lots of other options open to them. In the town, there are 4 community centres, 5 children’s centres, over 40 areas of park and playgrounds, as well as a museum, two libraries... These are also free to attend and open to everyone.

<><><><>

Same rules as schools etc. not about state control (fools), and El Reg.... half a story is not a story, unless it was troll-bait in which case... they shoot! they score!

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@ AC 09:21

So do you work for the council or are you one of their patsies. Like AC @ 11:29 I've heard nothing about an attempted child grab and I live very close to that ground. Also this is council policy, nothing to do with that useless Labour MP Claire Ward. The council is an incredibly left wing Liberal party clique where the mayor has her own private secretariat (which both the local Labour and Tory councilors have complained about).

Watford town council is incredibly PC, very left wing in their actions, and frankly rather shit as a result. Their main emphasis seems to be on making everything very politically correct, pushing green policies over personal freedoms, and trying to make it impossible to use a car in the area.

Like Ryokumas @ 08:52 I'm contemplating moving as Watford is turning in to a nightmare area in which to live if you want any personal freedoms.

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Terminator

Watch this space.....

Just imagine - 6 months on, all the locals say "Stuff the council", and the council then claim the "site is under-utilised" and flog it off to Tesco, NCP or a housebuilder.

All of this overseen by "Consultants" with whom councillors have links, and/or the site is sold to a developer with whom councillors have links.

Seen it all before.

Look for T Dan Smith, inter alia, or consult a multitude of back issues of Private Eye.

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Children at play

As a parent, I want to spend time engaged in recreation with my children, but I also recognise that it's important for them to socialise without me being there. My children will frequently refuse to play with their nursery friends when I'm around because they would rather be with me. That's nice 'n' all, but i don't really understand it. They should play with their peers.

So, I want to be able to take the children to a safe fun environment where they can have a good time with their peers. BUT, I want to be able to assure myself that they're happy BEFORE I leave them there. If I'm just to let them in and leave, I'm immediately more suspcious. Don't forget, I'm on first name terms with all of the staff at the children's nursery, and I know my eldest daughter's teacher (who is also the Head of Year) and the Head of Primary at her school. Not a collection of minimum wage Council dimwits.

Sensible parents just want to be able to make an informed choice. And to be able to play with their children (and photograph them) without some fucking pious wanker accusing them of being a paedo.

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Unhappy

CRB checks aren't foolproof Watford Council!

"What the heck is the job of play workers? And I dare to ask what is a play worker? I can only imagine and while this does not deliver definite answers it leaves me with shudder."

Of course we all know that nursery workers/play workers are all fully immune to doing anything wrong as they're CRB checked. Abuse in Plymouth didn't really happen recently did it?

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@ Stef 4

Oh dearie me, clearly some frustration spilling over here.

You are of course right that I - or anyone else for that matter - does not HAVE to use the facility and can CHOOSE to do something else entirely. My personal choice would be to not go there and instead spend the time with my kids myself. It is my good fortune not to live in Watford or anywhere near it and so thankfully I won't have to (not) trouble myself with choosing whether or not to use these no doubt marvellous play facilities.

Do I park in disabled spaces? No, my father is disabled so I have personal experience of their necessity and the inconsiderate f*ckwits who don't give a toss...

Do I send my kids to school? You betcha - all 5 of them so I believe I know a thing or two about leaving them under the supervision of suitably qualified and experienced individuals. And guess what? I'm happy to let them get on with it. I even get a pathetic degree of gratitude from said schools when my child breaks the rules or misbehaves and I back whatever punishment or sanction they want to mete out because sadly they are far more used to parents threatening and intimidating them.

I'm all in favour of rules and all in favour of following them. I'm also in favour of highlighting when rules are obtuse, unnecessary or just plain ridiculous. And finally I'm in favour of choosing not to engage with any facility, service or organisation whose rules I don't agree with rather than just breaking the rules.

There, that's my frustration aired now.

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Anonymous Coward

What is going on over there?

1. In the US, while parents generally don't stay around schools, nurseries, etc., they are generally allowed, in fact usually welcomed, to observe and volunteer assistance. Some would say they are encouraged to participate in their child's education/upbringing.

2. Not to imply that all is roses over here, or that we have it right, but seriously , what exactly is going on over there?

A sympathetic yankee

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Grenade

children aged 5 to 15 may play freely

Whilst being looked after by understaffed 16-17 year old "playworkers" being paid minimum wage.

Whats the worst that could happen...

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