Scots council bosses ‘tried to stop kids playing hopscotch’

Three-year-old Amelia Hart, who had been playing hopscotch using chalk marks on the pavement. Picture: SWNS

Three-year-old Amelia Hart, who had been playing hopscotch using chalk marks on the pavement. Picture: SWNS

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Jobsworth council bosses tried to stop children playing hopscotch - because the chalk squares they’d drawn on the pavement looked ‘unsightly’.

Astonished residents couldn’t believe it when they received a letter from housing managers about innocuous chalk drawings on a quiet street in Dumbarton.

The letter sent by the council to residents. Picture: SWNS

The letter sent by the council to residents. Picture: SWNS

The letter - asking residents to ‘refrain from allowing children to use chalk on the paving slabs’ - has provoked outrage from children’s play campaigners.

John Hart, 28, who got one of the letters, said the council should be more concerned about the huge amount of dog fouling and litter in the town.

John’s three-year-old daughter Amelia is one of the youngsters who was enjoying a spot of hopscotch during a spell of warm weather.

He said: “There’s a lot of kids around here and they’ve just been out playing in the nice weather over the last few weeks.

As far as the drawings go, this is the west of Scotland and it’s going to rain at some point. They’ll wash away

John Hart

“They drew hopscotch stuff on the ground with the chalk and that was all. I’d rather they were out playing in the good weather than stuck inside watching TV.

“There were no problems for a week until a neighbour complained about it.

“They actually came to my door about it. I said that I’ll keep an eye on the kids but I’m not going to stop them playing.

“Next thing I know we get this letter through from the council.”

John, who lives with Amelia and his partner Steph, added: “They should be promoting healthy activities for kids.

“The playpark in the area is not in good condition and they don’t have much else to do.

“As far as the drawings go, this is the west of Scotland and it’s going to rain at some point. They’ll wash away.

“I’d hope the council would be more concerned about fixing issues that could be dangerous for kids.”

Letters from Polly Dunlop. a housing officer at West Dunbartonshire Council, were were sent to residents living in the Park Crescent area of Dumbarton on August 28.

Ms Dunlop wrote: “On a regular inspection of the blocks last week I noticed that there was a considerable amount of chalk drawings on the slabs in front of the lower properties.

“Can I ask all residents to refrain from allowing children to use chalk on the paving slabs as it looks unsightly and is unwanted by many residents. Thank you for your co-operation on this.”

Rob Wheway, director of the Children’s Play Advisory Service, said: “Children should be able to play outside as that is the natural place to play.

“It is vitally important that they are given this opportunity.

“It is really fortunate that these children have a quiet space to play - away from the danger of main roads.

“It is appalling however that the council have apparently taken the word of a grumpy neighbour and not taken into account the fact that children need to be able to play.

“Using chalk to draw on pavements for games has been going on for at least 100 years. I don’t know how it can be considered a problem now.”

Embarrassed council officials have now apologised for sending out the letter, have withdrawn their warning to residents and have given the green light for hopscotch games to carry on.

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “We are sorry this letter was issued as this is not our position.

“We love to see children having fun, especially outside, and all we would ask is for them and their parents to be considerate of their neighbours.”

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