POLICE had to be called out twice to a car-free street in Enfield - with children running up and down - after a driver refused to accept the restrictions.
Devonshire Road was temporarily closed to through traffic - not residents - on Sunday February 19 as part of a monthly ’Play Streets’ scheme where cars are banned in favour of children playing.
But the event was marred by “ugly” scenes when an aggressive driver accelerated past a steward insisting he was a resident and had the right to continue.
He returned a couple of hours later and police again attended.
Maire Harris, of Devonshire Road, Palmers Green said: “It was very unfortunate, we had just closed the road so the children could play outside on their bikes and scooters.
“Then this man came down in his car and refused to stop, he was driving at quite some speed. So the steward chased after him, and the driver got out and complained the steward had smashed up his car.
“The driver was very aggressive and refused to move for about ten minutes. Then he came back later with his dad in the car.
“It was an ugly incident, and sets a terrible example to the children, it’s not nice.
“But it’s important to remember it’s only the second time it’s happened in the three years we’ve been doing this.”
Over the past few years, Play Streets were rolled out in two thirds of London boroughs by the charity London Play, to get children playing outside, meeting their neighbours and getting fresh air.
Enfield has a particularly high concentration of these streets where neighbours regularly agree to temporarily close the road - with the council’s approval - to through traffic.
Devonshire Road, Old Park Road, New River Crescent, Riverside Gardens, all in Palmers Green, The Mall in Southgate and Orpington Road in Winchmore Hill all run play streets.
Maire and her husband have been play street organisers from the start and their twins, aged 11, have made some brilliant friends through the scheme.
Maire added: “It allows the children to play on their own street, rather than behind closed doors. It also allows the neighbours to meet, and develops a great community spirit.
"Not only that but it gets the kids, outside, playing, and off their laptops.”
Paul Hocker is the development director of London Play - the charity behind the idea.
He said: “Children have not changed – their innate desire to play and make friends through play remains the same as it was 50 years ago.
“But the reality is that on an average day, most children play outside for less that 30 minutes – and one in five children does not play outside at all.
“This suggests that across Enfield almost seventeen thousand children do not play out. Children are spending twice as long inside on screens as they are playing outside.”
Devonshire Road is hosting an open play street on Sunday March 19 from 2 to 5pm , where people thinking of setting up a similar scheme can go along and have a look for themselves.
For more information on play streets go to: http://www.palmersgreencommunity.org.uk/pgc/newsmobile/1464-unplugging-our-kids