No dogs. No cycling. No ball games. We’ve all seen these signs in the park before. Naturally, we need them to protect our open spaces. Rules ensure everyone can enjoy the park, from the casual walker-by to the triathlon athlete. But with summer coming up and sunny weekends to look forward to, should we also be asking ourselves, can a park have too many rules?
Back in February, there were headlines in the media about Wandsworth council clamping down on all ‘annoying’ activities in the park with new bye-laws. Tree climbing, kite flying and family cricket games were identified as possible nuisance activities. As always, though, the media have a way of skewing things for effect. Wandsworth council have since clarified that these rules were not intended to stop children playing, but were intended to ensure that everyone could enjoy the borough’s parks free of antisocial behaviour and criminal activity. Park police would not act if children were climbing trees safely. The council’s Enforcement Policy was to not prosecute anyone under 18.
Still, Wandsworth’s new bylaws raised the question. Quite rightly, retaining a sense of freedom in parks is important to local residents. But vandalism and antisocial behaviour can also ruin people’s enjoyment. Rules are there for a reason, because flying balls can be a hazard in the picnic area and dogs have a habit of debauching flowerbeds. The key, it would seem, is for local councils to find the right balance. If they do, then everyone stands to benefit.
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Risk Management Partners Limited is authorised and regulated
by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Registered office: The Walbrook Building 25 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AW.
Registered in England and Wales. Company no. 2989025.