Danger’ of playground entrance

A MOTHER of twins has branded plans to leave gates off a new children s play area as dangerous . Becky Platt, of Offley Road, Hitchin, said North Hertfordshire District Council s decision to leave gates off its new £54,000 play area in the town s Bancrof

A MOTHER of twins has branded plans to leave gates off a new children's play area as "dangerous".

Becky Platt, of Offley Road, Hitchin, said North Hertfordshire District Council's decision to leave gates off its new £54,000 play area in the town's Bancroft Gardens would make it difficult for parents with two or more children to keep them all safe.

The council has decided to use grids instead despite concerns made by Mrs Platt, whose twins Eden and Noah are 20 months old, that leaving gaps in the fencing where the gates should go would allow youngsters to run out of the park.

And, Mrs Platt said, if a parent had more than one child it would be difficult to chase after the wandering youngster while trying to take care of their other children.

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Mrs Platt, 32, said: "This is an excellent play area for children and set to be even better but for one important factor. There are no gates on the area and no plans for any to be included.

"All the parents my group of friends and I have spoken to in the park agree that gates are absolutely essential."

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Mrs Platt said that because cars use the nearby area as an access route to the tennis courts, and that youngsters ride scooters near the play area, gates should be used to ensure the safety of the children playing in the park.

Mrs Platt added: "I can't believe the council have refused to put gates on, it's dangerous."

She is not the only mother with concerns about the council's policy across North Hertfordshire of using grids instead of gates.

Helen Ruggles, of Kings Hedges, Hitchin, agreed that gates are needed in parks to keep children safe, and cited the Howard Park play area in Letchworth GC as another example

Mrs Ruggles, 39, and also mother of twins, said: "It really is shocking. One of the reasons that the council has given for not having gates was that bullies could hold them closed and therefore stop the children from escaping.

"The children who use these parks are very young, and no doubt would be going to the park with a parent, so it is nonsense to suggest that.

"If there are gates allowing kids to run away if bullies do go at them, then what is to stop them running away at any other time?"

A spokesman for the council said concerns were brought up during the consultation process for the play area and these were given consideration, but the council's practice of installing grids, which has been the case for 15 years, will continue.

During recent council meetings the reasons brought up in support of grids include that gates can be opened to allow dogs in, and that there is also a danger of trapping children's fingers in the gates.

The spokesman also gave the following reasons:

* Gates get played on and damaged so they are always a maintenance problem.

* They are more difficult than grids for people with restricted mobility, which includes parents with pushchairs.

* The perimeter fence is to keep dogs out, not children in. They were introduced in the early 1990s following dog fouling legislation.

* Although some dogs can be carried over grids, all dogs can be allowed through gates.

Work on the Bancroft area was due to begin this week and will take two to three weeks to complete.

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