Let’s start Playing Out in Bromley Heath, say mums

August 04 2014

REMEMBER the good old days when children could play happily in the street without having to dodge constant streams of traffic?

Jacky Dokerty with Amelia, 10, and Laurie, 8,  and Playing Out supporter Claire Woodlands

REMEMBER the good old days when children could play happily in the street without having to dodge constant streams of traffic?

This is exactly the vision a group of Bromley Heath mums has for the future.

Jacky Dockerty and Jenni Crossley are part of a group trying to establish ‘Playing Out’ in their community.

The idea is to close a road for an hour and a half during the weekend to allow children to play in the street.

Playing Out is already well established in Bristol where the city council waives the road closure fee.

The group hopes South Gloucestershire Council will do the same as they feel it is just not practical to expect residents to cover costs.

Mum-of-three Jacky, 45, said the first road on their radar is Bromley Heath Avenue on September 13 from 2-3.30pm.

“There’s an awful lot of interest but we haven’t submitted an application yet as there is a £140 fee to organise the road closure. We have no funds - we’re not a charity or a business; we’re just a community initiative.

“We don’t want to get into a situation where people feel they have to either self-fund it or seek funds for it because the initiative will fail. The whole thing is supposed to be informal and community driven. If we formalise it, it will put people off.

“We have emailed the council and are exploring how we can go about having the fee waived.”

Jenni, 43, who also has three children, said: Going back a generation or two children were able to play in the streets. It was safe because there was far less traffic. Part of the benefit is for children to take over a road for a small amount of time just for somewhere different to go.

“It’s not necessarily just for children; there’s a whole community element where other people living in the street have a chance to come out and meet their neighbours.”

Jenni insisted that the safety of children would be paramount.

“There are very strict procedures we have to follow,” she said.

“All the children have to be supervised by one of their own parents and marshals will be at any junction point onto the road to make sure children don’t stray off. They will also advise people who want to bring their car onto the road during the Playing Out time that they can do that but we would have to clear the road of children and escort the car to where it has to go.”

The plan is to close off a different road anything from once a month to every six weeks and the group is looking for volunteers to organise a Playing Out event in their street.

The idea of Playing Out in Bromley Heath has already attracted a great deal of attention. A Facebook group which was set up just a few weeks ago, already has more than 50 members.

“People can contact us through Facebook by searching under Playing Out in Bromley Heath. It’s a closed group but it’s for anyone who is interested to find out more,” said Jenni. “Bromley Heath is a real family area so we’re hoping that Playing Out is something that will be picked up and brought forward by other people.”

A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: “There is a charge of £140 for street closures in South Gloucestershire which everyone must pay, unless the closure is of national interest.

“We are unable to comment on any applications that have yet to received, however we have encouraged the group in question to submit their application as soon as possible.

“If a decision were made to waive the fee, this would be based on each application’s individual merits and benefit to the community.”