I suggest a campaign about ...

Close residential streets on Sundays so children can play out

Based on the suggestion by MP Anne Milton that cars could be banned from residential roads to allow children to play out in the street. This is an excellent idea that would help counter child obesity, aid child development, help foster community cohesion.

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    Dave MillerDave Miller shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    316 comments

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      • Dave MillerDave Miller commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Labour's Diane Abbott says "Let children play in the street"

        "Over-protective parents must let their children play in the street to save them from obesity, Labour's Diane Abbott has told the Standard.

        Ms Abbott, the shadow public health minister, said: "I think London kids are especially at risk because so many mums and dads are fearful about letting them play in the streets. I think parents need to be tougher on their kids' diets to save them from ill-health. Carrying on with the chips and PlayStation 3 culture is not an option."

        NHS figures have revealed that more than one in five children in London are obese by the time they leave primary school. The problem is worse in the capital than in any other UK region.

        Ms Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said Londoners needed a "revolution" in their approach to children's lifestyles.

        "Schools should be on the front line in the battle against obesity. Healthy school dinners and the teaching of domestic science are crucial tools in improving health.

        "It is important that we develop an environment where people can make healthy choices - and that we understand the significance of issues like safe play areas for kids, physical activity and also of the advertising of junk food, sugary soft drinks and alcohol."

        She criticised the Government for failing to get to grips with the problem, calling for better food labelling, a full-scale prevention programme to target the social and psychological factors behind over-eating, curbs on junk food adverts aimed at children and rules to reduce salt in food.

        Childhood obesity costs the capital £7.1 million a year to treat, and the National Child Measurement Programme found that 21.9 per cent of London children were obese when they left primary school, compared with 19 per cent nationally and 16.5 per cent in the South Central region, which includes Oxfordshire and Hampshire.

        Children raised in towns and cities were more likely to be overweight, suggesting that outdoor play and exercise could be a factor."

        http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-24024817-let-children-play-in-the-street-to-prevent-them-getting-fat-says-abbott.do

      • Paul HockerPaul Hocker commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Hi 'oudinotinot',

        Your mistake is common. Children need a variety of places to play as each environment offers its own unique play opportunities and therefore benefits different aspects of a child's development. For example swings etc in parks are great for physical development and risk assessing, street play has a proven positive impact on children's social skills - leaning where the boundaries are from their adult neighbours. Forests, beaches and farms etc give children a chance to explore, understand and appreciate nature. Adventure Playgrounds encourage imaginative play in a space that encourages invention. I'll stop the examples there as they are endless. The fact that South vale has a decent park nearby AND a neighbourhood play street doesn't mean the children should only have one of them. As adults we would for example soon become miffed if our recreation consisted of the same activity in the same location. South Vale's play opportunities should be the norm in London. As for he consequence you mentioned is that a hunch or do you have solid evidence to back up your claim?

      • oudinotinotoudinotinot commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I still haven't had a specific response to my query of 3 weeks ago about the very close proximity of Westow Park (literally a 30 second walk) to South Vale.
        There has recently been investment in the facilities in Westow park. Why is this objectionable to Mr Miller as a place for children to play in on Sundays?

        One consequence of "street play" (among others) would be that local councils would feel even less obliged to invest in local parks.

      • angus hewlettangus hewlett commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I agree that's something that should be taken in to consideration (esp with regards to vulnerable groups - elderly, disabled, ill people etc. - and to some extent, shift workers), but it's a street-by-street matter & much the same issue caused by barbecues/parties in back gardens, fit ablebodied people mowing their small lawns with noisy diesel/electric mowers, neighbours who like to do DIY at 7am on a Sunday, etc.. In any case, I doubt we're talking about a horde of 200 kids descending on the street.. if it's that popular, they'd need to extend it to more streets or rotate on a week-by-week basis so that the impact on any one person/place isn't unbearable. Ultimately though, anyone who lives in an open town/city community should expect & accept /some/ (minor & occasional) degree of 'nuisance' from people with different lifestyles, whether that's kids playing, the occasional drunk singing out of tune on the way home at 2am, the power-drill-and-lawnmower brigade or those who like their barbecues backed with a hefty dub reggae soundtrack. Consideration for others & sense of proportion is key.

        'course, whether on a nationwide basis you can trust grownups to behave like grownups in sorting this kind of thing out is a matter for debate :o) but being somewhat of a liberal I'm firmly in the Yes camp there.

      • oudinotinotoudinotinot commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Ok angus-
        I'm with you, to a point...your arguments are good.

        Just a last sticking point...the freedom of other people in these self designated "play streets"...what do those seeking peace and quiet do on a Sunday in the Summertime? Where is their voice in this?
        If it was suggested, for example, that Saturday nights on your street were adult "party" nights...with the streets reclaimed for loud music all night long, would that be ok in your street?

      • angus hewlettangus hewlett commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The streets belong to everyone, including children. It's just a matter of consideration.. my kids and my neighbours kids DO play out, under adult supervision, and I can tell you that the traffic noise from the next road over (not to mention overhead noise from aircraft, and police sirens a few blocks away.. hey, this is Croydon) is a far greater violator of peace & quiet than a few children ever will be. Kids used to play out in the street everywhere, before fear of cars and (mostly imaginary) abusers scared them in to their homes.
        I personally accept responsibility for MY children. That's called being a parent. Would I let them, at a young age, play completely unsupervised with a person I didn't know well? Of course not, and for that type of scenario CRB checks are appropriate. But we're talking about neighbourliness and, yes, some degree of parental supervision & responsibility.
        As to.. 'without the facilities of a park'.. that's kind of the point. As an educator, you should understand the value of that. Improvising, imagining, creating something from nothing, rather than only using what's pre-packaged and laid on by the powers-that-be. It's like the difference between a novel and a Pixar film. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against parks & decent play facilities, but it's a sad world in which outdoor play can only ever take place in Designated Play Facilities.

      • oudinotinotoudinotinot commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        So in fact, angus, this public space you have described sounds very much like.....A PARK. Only without the facilities of a park...and with the potential to create a lot of noise for many people who live in the "streets" who value peace and quiet.
        As to my CRB comment- yes, it is sad. However, it is also neccassary. Are you, personally, going to accept responsibility if one of the children playing in your self created play zones comes to harm at the hands of a self appointed "steward"?

      • angus hewlettangus hewlett commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        oudinotinot,

        1. objectionableness shouldn't really be a problem, all that's being asked is for people to drive at walking pace on a residential street for a minute or two. if someone really is a being a d*ckhead, all the stewards will likely be able to do is shepherd the kids out of the way, and photograph/film the offender. In London at least, there are police units that will do at least something about well-evidenced reports of anti social driving. That said, people know their own streets.. if yours regularly gets boyracer chavs speeding through at 40mph that's probably something you'd need to address before considering any kind of play street arrangement.

        2. no age limit, adults can play too. play is an activity for all ages, the street is a place for all people. I think by mentioning 13-14 yr olds you're perhaps raising the spectre of anti social behaviour? tbh any kind of criminality or ASB is a side issue and should be dealt with as such.

        3. yes, of course, it's a public space!

        4. that strikes me as a very sad comment on today's society. if the parent doesn't trust the steward, they should do the supervising themselves. we are talking about simple neighbourliness, or should I get a CRB before I say hi to the neighbours' kids now? And we wonder that by age 13/14 they turn in to little asbo-warriors.

      • oudinotinotoudinotinot commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Questions
        1. Who are these people who "steward" or "police" or "organise" or "patrol" these closing off days? What do they do when someone "objectionable" comes along?
        2. What age limit do you prescibe for the "children" playing in the street? Can 13-14 year olds come along?
        3. Are any and all children invited to come along? Can the children from nearby estates and non-traffic free roads come and join in with the fun? If not, why not?
        4. Most parents would expect anyone supervising their children on a regular basis to be CRB checked. How will that apply to these Sundays?

      • Jane GallagherJane Gallagher commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        We organised the first Playing Out session in Oxford 2 weeks ago, with the team from Playing Out in Bristol involved. It was a huge hit with everyone - young, old, parents, non-parents. The stewards reported that all car-drivers were positive and friendly about the playing out, and many said they would like to see more of this kind of thing. Car-driving residents had full access (guided by a steward at walking pace). We had a residents' meeting to discuss it beforehand, sent a flyer with full info, and the road closure was easy to do, and free. I do understand why some people don't get it, but I think if they tried it, they might like it.

      • Jane GallagherJane Gallagher commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        We organised the first Playing Out session in Oxford 2 weeks ago, with the team from Playing Out in Bristol involved. It was a huge hit with everyone - young, old, parents, non-parents. The stewards reported that all car-drivers were positive and friendly about the playing out, and many said they would like to see more of this kind of thing. Car-driving residents had full access (guided by a steward at walking pace). We had a residents' meeting to discuss it beforehand, sent a flyer with full info, and the road closure was easy to do, and free. I do understand why some people don't get it, but I think if they tried it, they might like it.

      • oudinotinotoudinotinot commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        As a non car-driving local teacher, I am very much in favour of children being outside, playing.
        HOWEVER- can I point out that South Vale, the road in question, is LITERALLY
        100metres away from the entrance to Westow Park -30 second walk
        250metres from Upper Norwood Recreation Ground- 2 minute walk
        700metres from Norwood Park -7 minute walk
        1km from Crystal palace Park-10 minute walk

        Seems to me that rather than making residents lives a misery of noise every Sunday, the local parks are MORE than ample...

      • Dave MillerDave Miller commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @wendy
        I agree - a lot of it does come down to whether "we value cars more than we do children in residential areas" - but I suspect a lot of opposition is caused by fear of children, and fear that they will damage property, and yes, will they scratch cars. I've found while campaigning for a play street that it exposes a lack of community, while I believe a play street will help rebuild community, sadly there are many who dismiss it as a lunatic idea.

      • Wendy RussellWendy Russell commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I think raising the issue is crucial, asking the question as to whether we valuie cars more than we do children in residential areas. I don't think, though, that a blanket closing of residential streets is the answer - each situation is different. The intention that it will automatically foster communtiy cohesion may not be realised everywhere.

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