There was an interesting story in the 7 February New Zealand Herald that I wanted to briefly discuss here, because I think it demonstrates some inconsistent attitudes towards safety within Auckland Council. The story – Council orders roadside swings removed – discusses the decision of the Council to enforce a Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw and compel homeowners in Sandringham’s Calgary Street to remove swings they’ve hung in trees planted on the berm. Apparently it’s because of a public complaint, rather than evidence of a dedicated campaign against swings on public trees. But their justification for enforcing the Bylaw makes you wonder why they aren’t cracking down on public swings in general:
The council’s manager of bylaws and compliance, Max Wilde, said it required the swings on Calgary St to be removed because of the damage they were causing to the trees they were attached to, which is a breach of the bylaw.
“We also considered the potential health and safety issues they presented in a public place, especially being so close to the roadway.”
The homeowners’ response has been compliant (they have agreed to remove the swing), but annoyed:
“If they really do think it’s a nuisance, what’s the nuisance? If it’s a safety thing, it’s fine for me to have a swing out the back. It’s not like it swings out onto the road.”
He’s also accused Auckland Council as being “anti children having fun”.
Another piece of relevant information from the news story:
Calgary St is designated as a slow traffic zone and has speed bumps.
So, one of the Council’s concerns is that it might be unsafe for children to play on a swing near traffic in this slow traffic zone residential street, which has speed bumps to prevent cars from speeding past. However, if you visit the NZ Herald link for this news story, you can watch a short video of the homeowner talking about the issue, and see his children playing gone the swing, which doesn’t encroach on the road. And in the minute and a half of video, no cars travel down their street.
Guess what’s a ten-minute walk away from Calgary Street? Potters Park, on the corner of Dominion Road and Balmoral Road – a very busy intersection, with a playground that isn’t fully fenced (and has been newly added to the Auckland Partially Fenced Playgrounds list, now that I’ve had sufficient reports about it from parents). Wouldn’t you think that would also be one of the “potential health and safety issues they presented in a public place, especially being so close to the roadway”?
Join the campaign for safer play spaces for little Kiwis by liking Kiwi Play Safe on Facebook.