Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Council tried to ban children from playing hopscotch as chalk marks looked 'unsightly'

Council bosses tried to stop children playing hopscotch because the chalk squares they'd drawn on the pavement looked "unsightly". Astonished residents couldn't believe it when they received a letter from housing managers about innocuous chalk drawings on a quiet street in Dumbarton, Scotland. The letter, asking residents to "refrain from allowing children to use chalk on the paving slabs", has provoked outrage from children's play campaigners. Father-of-one John Hart, 28, who got one of the letters, said the council should be more concerned about the huge amount of dog fouling and litter in the town. John's three-year-old daughter Amelia is one of the youngsters who was enjoying a spot of hopscotch during a spell of warm weather.

He said: "There's a lot of kids around here aged between three and 10, and they've just been out playing in the nice weather over the last few weeks. They drew hopscotch stuff on the ground with the chalk and that was all. I'd rather they were out playing in the good weather than stuck inside watching TV. There were no problems for a week until a neighbour complained about it. They actually came to my door about it. I said that I'll keep an eye on the kids but I'm not going to stop them playing. Next thing I know we get this letter through from the council and I couldn't believe it. Did they really want to stop the kids playing?" John, who lives with Amelia and his partner Steph, added: "There's dog fouling all over the place around here, a lot of litter and steps in the flats here are broken.

"There are bigger issues to deal with here than chalk drawings on the ground. It's not even anything offensive that they are drawing, it's just kids drawing wee flowers and hopscotch games on the ground. What concerns me is that they should be promoting healthy activities for kids. The playpark in the area is not in good condition and they don't have much else to do. As far as the drawings go, this is the west of Scotland and it's going to rain at some point. They'll wash away. I'd hope the council would be more concerned about fixing issues that could be dangerous for kids." Letters from a housing officer at West Dunbartonshire Council, were were sent to residents living in the Park Crescent area of Dumbarton on August 28.

They read: "On a regular inspection of the blocks last week I noticed that there was a considerable amount of chalk drawings on the slabs in front of the lower properties. Can I ask all residents to refrain from allowing children to use chalk on the paving slabs as it looks unsightly and is unwanted by many residents. Thank you for your co-operation on this." Embarrassed council officials have now apologised for sending out the letter, have withdrawn their warning to residents and have given the green light for hopscotch games to carry on. A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: "We are sorry this letter was issued as this is not our position. We love to see children having fun, especially outside, and all we would ask is for them and their parents to be considerate of their neighbours. We will be updating residents in Park Crescent as soon as possible."

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