Police called to car-free play day in Enfield

By Clare Casey in Local People

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

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Jan Cosgrove · 112 days ago · Report

There's always one who will make kid's lives a misery, it's nothing new, I had it with my kids 35 years ago (the man's name was Hunt btw). He used to call the police all the time,bully kids, make up false stories. Until one day he said teenagers were riding motorbikes in the school yard at the back of his house. The police turned up, found my much younger kids there and I was there to make sure he didn't harass them. The officer said "Wait a minute sir, we'll see the gentleman so we get his side." came back about six mins later and said they'd had numerous calls from him and if he called them out once more like this they'd nick him for wasting police time. Parents and others have to stand up to such bullies. Kids play out today far less than we did, not just because or ,mainly re computers. The same was said re TV .... Much of the reason has been, not just such individuals (and they get far more of their way than they should) but because of the car which moving or parked has taken away so much of the street play space kids used to rely on, just outside their homes. Kick a ball in a street now near a parked car ..... I am national secretary of Fair Play for Children (www.fairplayforchildren.org) and we published an online report 'Stolen Streets Stolen Childhood' where we reported that over 3 or so decades possibly up to 3/4 million acres of such street space has been lost to children in this way and that there is about 1 acre of formal playground space for every 750 children or so, to get enough playground space for 100 per acre would 80,00o acres of space near where they live, cost? +£6 billion .... So street space is good, make way for kids play,it's SO important for so many reasons, and we should be aiming for at least 2 or 3 days a week to meet their health needs. Playing out and walking to school proven to be better than organised sport. Well done parents and London Play which has been a Fair Play member for years.

Malcolm Prior · 115 days ago · Report

Did anyone video or take photos of the driver, the car, or the father? If so let's see them published on here and on Facebook and shame these selfish people!

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