New bylaws to protect parks unanimously agreed

Published: 22 February 2018

New bylaws are being proposed throughout Wandsworth to protect the borough’s parks from criminal damage, anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

Contrary to recent misinformed reports the new bylaws have nothing to do with curtailing childrens’ enjoyment in any way and will help the council run its parks effectively as possible for the enjoyment all residents, especially children.

Last night the council's General Purposes Committee unanimously agreed to recommend the new bylaws to replace the current outdated ones that exist in Coronation Gardens, Furzedown Recreation Ground, Garratt Park, King George's Park, Leaders Gardens, Swaby Gardens and Tooting Gardens. 

The new Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) model bylaws are already adopted by 14 other local authorities in London and will be used to cover a further 35 parks and open spaces across the borough, including old burial grounds and sports grounds, that currently are not protected by any bylaws.

Councillor Jonathan Cook, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “The existing Wandsworth bylaws that relate to our parks date back many decades and simply aren’t relevant for 2018. 

“For example one of the bylaws forbids cattle, sheep and goats being taken into our parks. We need modern bylaws in place that will help us to best look after, maintain and preserve our wonderful park resources.

“A lot has been made of these changes but the reality is that all we are doing is bringing the bylaws for our parks and open spaces into the 21st century, replicating what has already been done across much of London.”

He added: “This is all about applying the bylaws in a sensible and common sense way. Stopping a child from flying a kite or climbing a tree, as has been suggested in some quarters this week, certainly will not be how we want to see the bylaws used and it’s important to us that families and children feel they can use our parks for leisure activities and play freely. We want as many people as possible to enjoy our parks.”

Inspector Steve Biggs who helps police Wandsworth’s parks spoke at the meeting and stressed that having carried out his role for almost 30 years neither he or any of his colleagues had ever stopped children from playing in parks – and that included tree climbing and kite flying.

He said: “The service has not reported any child for flying a kite, climbing trees or playing ball games. We actively encourage parents to come along and enjoy our facilities. It’s all about common sense.”

The committee agreed that under the new bylaws this would continue and under-18s would not be fined as part of the enforcement policy.

• The changes proposed won't apply to Battersea Park, Garratt Green, Tooting Common, Wandsworth Common and Wandsworth Park, which are already covered by Greater London Council bylaws