A Mother Writes About Sweyne Park…

Play Area in Sweyne Park

We had the following email last night from a resident in the Downhall Park Way area of Rayleigh:

Dear Councillors,

I have just returned from the enclosed children’s park with my 3 year old son and 10 week old baby. I take my son to the park at least five times a week and he loves the facilities. Unfortunately there was again a crowd of teenagers (approx 15) who were kicking three full sized footballs around the entire children’s play areas and using the slides and climbing frames as target practices. In addition to this they were using constant bad language. I confronted the groups as the balls were coming close to the pram and pointed out that it was a “no ball games” zone. I also requested that they refrain from swearing in front of young children. I dare say you can imagine there reluctance to oblige and most continued.
I appreciate that bad language can not be dealt with, however I do feel that the issues of teenagers playing football in the enclosed childrens park should be dealt with as a priority as it is escalating in frequency and putting young children and babies in prams at risk of injury.
Maybe a large sign at the gated entrance clearly stating no balls games could be erected, so no one can pretend they were unaware. (This may encourage other parents to request balls are not used).
I would like to see this difficulty as a parent of young children highlighted in the FOCUS. Parents could be requested to ensure that their children refrain from taking balls into the enclosed park area and respect the need for a safe play area. Possibly a few benches in the open field areas would encourage the teenagers to avoid the enclosed park as by standers tend to sit on the children’s play equipment watching others play football. I am not sure if there are any football posts in the field areas.

I have previously left the park without saying anything to them, however I was angered today as my child was unable to play on all of the age related facilities, I am very protective of my children and will continue to defend their rights to play in safe areas.

We are discussing this depressing situation with council officers and will let you know what they say. In the meantime, are there any comments from other residents (young and old ) in the area?

  • Since I posted this, I’ve talked to the District Council – there may be some more notices going up at the playspace saying ‘no ball games’. Mores usefully , perhaps, is that I’m hoping that an extra piece of equipment – a long slide – will be installed in the next two or three months. Not only is this good for the little ones, it will fill an empty space that could be used for football.

    I also spoke to a couple of teenage boys who were playing a sort of volleyball one evening inside the playspace . They were polite and pleasant to chat to – they told me that they preferred to play there , rather than at the rebound wall, because the perimeter fence made it quicker to retrieve the ball. There were no small children there at the time , and they clearly felt they weren’t doing any harm. Perhaps we should look at next years budget and try to create a small enclosed area further into the park..

  • Chris,
    I was in the park on Monday 14th August 2006. I took 2 children both under five into the playground, there were 2 boys playing football within the playground, they were not a bother.
    What was more distressing was the amount of dog mess within the playground, this is very dangerous for small children. I did not notice if there were any signs to keep dogs out of the playground…..

  • I have spoken to the council this morning and they will arrange a clear-up of the playground.

    From memory, I think there are notices about dogs but they will check.

    Thanks for the comment, this kind of information is a big help!

    Chris Black