Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Lone adults to be banned from Hampstead Heath?
More worrying evidence today that 'child protection' is overtaking 'health and safety' as the excuse of choice for prodnoses and jobsworths. The Mail reports that the Tory council responsible for Telford Town Park in Shropshire has instructed park staff to interrogate any adults without children in the park. The council says 'Our town park staff approach adults that are not associated with any children in the park and request the reason for them being there'.
This park isn't some city-centre hanky with just a children's playground and a couple of benches; it's 420 acres. Hampstead Heath is 790 acres. Now I'm reading between the lines here, but the only reason I can guess at for the council's action is that some adult connections are being made in the park, gay or straight. Instead of some quiet community education work to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate behaviour, Telford has chosen to exclude potential participants instead. Also excluding joggers, walkers, photographers, naturalists and the vulnerable and isolated elderly for whom parks provide a cheap and beneficial means to maintain social contact. Many of these users will doubtless be paying the council tax that maintains the park and pays the prodnoses, and who may have a reasonable expectation of being able to use the asset they're paying for.
Just imagine the outcry if the City of London tried to ban lone adults from Hampstead Heath ...