Anger over sign banning children from play area on private housing estate
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
A councillor has expressed her anger over a sign outside a play area on a private Wrexham housing estate banning children who live elsewhere from using it.
Becca Martin, who represents the Maesydre ward, took her four-year-old son Charlie to the playground on the Fairways Estate off Holt Road on Saturday, June 25.
However, she was left shocked after being greeted by a sign informing her they were not allowed to enter as they live outside the estate.
The notice states: “The play areas and open spaces are for the exclusive use of the residents of the Fairways Estate and their invitees and no others.”
The sign is understood to have been put up by Holmzone Limited, a resident-controlled management company, which charges people who live on the estate an annual fee to pay for the park’s upkeep.
Directors said it was justified due to the playground being privately owned and maintained.
But Cllr Martin said the sign sent out a negative message to children from families who can’t afford to live there that they aren’t worthy of using the play facilities.
In a post shared on Facebook, she said: “I can’t even begin to explain how much this has angered and upset me.
“Every child deserves a safe space to play, regardless of where they live.
“I am aware residents pay a maintenance fee for the upkeep of the play area and open spaces, however that is not the issue here
“The issue is that that sign enforces a feeling on my child that he’s not welcome in that area because we can’t afford the £300,000 needed to purchase a house there.
“What sort of example does that set to our children, the future of our country, our world?”
Cllr Martin said she believed the rule was unenforceable and would not deter her from taking her son to the play area.
Other Facebook users also expressed their anger over the sign.
One person said: “I understand that anti-social behaviour may be causing problems there, but the sad fact is that it won’t keep out anyone who wants to get in.
“What it will do is to send a sad and divisive message to the children that do use it.”
Another said: “I’ve never heard of anything like that! To me, playgrounds are for everyone.”
But some said they agreed that only those who pay to maintain the play area should be allowed to use it.
A spokesperson for Holmzone Limited said: “We fully agree that all children should have access to safe and appropriate places to play, but providing that for everyone in Wrexham is not the job of those who live on this estate.
“It appears that Cllr Martin is unaware that the open spaces on the estate, including the two playgrounds, are privately owned and maintained, in accordance with the requirements of planning consent given for the estate 20 years ago.
“People who purchase a house on the estate are required to pay an annual charge, in addition to their council tax, to maintain this estate’s grounds and play areas as shared amenities for the residents.
“The signs are in place to provide clarity on the rules that we ask people to respect to ensure the playgrounds are available for children to use.”
They added: “Children of friends and families of residents on the estate have always been welcome, as the sign says.
“Neither of our ward councillors have ever raised this is as an issue before but we are always happy to meet and discuss with them should they wish to do so.”
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This is class war and it must not be tolerated… “Where do the children play?”
This is an abomination and cannot be allowed.
Reeks of fascism and class system. It’s 2022.
Yes, this is sad. (Next step: gated communities? Security guards? Spot inspections of identity for children on the swings?) But: as I read it, the basic problem is lack of the “public good” that we (all?) want – excellent public playgrounds – rather than the existence of a particular “private good”. (Is your own house, or your own back garden, open for anyone to wander into? Can any children who live nearby, or are walking past, come to your child’s birthday party? Or your family’s picnic?) I wasn’t a particular fan of Mrs Thatcher, but I do remember one promise… Read more »
It’s not a public facility so there would be no entitlement for people who don’t pay to use it. It’s a no brainer.
The tendency of people to assume that anything and everything is free and accessible is in need of correction. We have a problem with people treating a private canal mooring as a public facility to the detriment of the mooring tenants who pay significant sums to use it. And you can find farmers everywhere who are sick of dogs worrying their sheep and dog excrement infecting their cattle and disposable barbecues and even human faeces.
Cathy Jones and the others need to get real. There are likely other playgrounds in Wrexham set up on other systems. All of them cost money to run and to keep safe, free of dog mess and needles. If the council doesn’t do it then residents associations or charities can. They need to get over their sense of entitlement and organise facilities in their areas.
Sounds like thinking from the beyond the dyke to me. Not Welsh at all, no place for it here.
Poor kids, one step off their patch and they are a target for every bully in the neighbourhood, are they going to send them to private school as well?