Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Thursday, 29 October 2009

Row over parents playground ban

Playground (generic)
The council said parents were distracting staff at the playground

A council in Hertfordshire has banned parents from two council-run adventure playgrounds because they have not been Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checked.

Watford Borough Council wrote to parents and carers saying adults without a CRB check would have to be supervised by vetted playworkers.

The letter said it had no option but to ban all adults including parents and carers from the two sites.

It said this was no different to other groups like brownies and cubs.

'Sick joke'

The Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Watford said the decision was "ludicrous".

Richard Harrington said: "The council has made the decision that parents are no longer allowed to play with their children in the play areas and that children will be cared for by 'qualified and police vetted play rangers'.

"It's a sick joke. This is a case of creating problems where there are none."

The council said the restriction only applies to its Harwoods and Harebreaks adventure playgrounds.

'Risky and challenging'

The elected mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill said the authority has faced criticism from a dozen or so parents.

She added: "The letter from a senior community playworker to parents was a bit like a sledgehammer to crack a nut but councils are in the front line and vilified if they don't take these sorts of measures."

Ms Thornhill said of the two adventure playgrounds where the parents had been asked to leave: "This is not a playground we're talking about but a unique gated and fenced facility where quite risky and challenging activities take place."

She said the Harebreaks playground had never allowed adults to stay and the Harwood site had had a core of half a dozen parents who insisted on staying with their children.

It had distracted staff from adequately supervising the children leading to a series of incidents, Ms Thornhill said.

A council statement said: "We are aware that there may be circumstances where there is a need for a parent or carer to stay on site.

"If parents aren't happy leaving their children - there are lots of other options open to them."

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