Thursday, October 29, 2009

How Very Illiberal of a LibDem Mayor

The phrase 'political correctness gone mad' is overused. But I can't think of a better way of describing what is happening in Watford. Essentially, parents have been barred from public playgrounds in parks. Instead, they are forced to wait outside the railings whilst council-employed "play facilitators" assist the children.

The council claim it is due to Ofsted regulations, although Ofsted have stated "only people working with children needed to be checked, not all adults on the premises. It added: 'We would never seek to prevent parents and carers having access to their own children.'"

The most pernicious quote is from the Mayor of Watford, the LibDem Dorothy Thornhill:

'Sadly, in today's climate, you can't have adults walking around unchecked in a children's playground.'

Honestly. Why not ban parents from having children, then? Wouldn't that save us all a lot of heartache worrying about paedophiles. What is it about some politicians that they have simply lost the ability to differentiate between a real danger and trying to get all bases covered. Of course society should take all reasonable steps to protect children from danger, but when it gets to the stage that all adults are seen as potential child molesters we really do have to start asking questions.

And for a supposedly 'Liberal' mayor to go along with this raises all sorts of questions about what it means to be a Liberal Democrat nowadays.

And believe me, I'd be writing exactly the same thing if this concerned a Conservative mayor.

The full background to the story is HERE in Metro.

UPDATE 2.15pm: The LibDems are in full flow trying to deflect this as a non story. However, perhaps they might like to explain why Dorothy Thornhill deleted this story from her blog...

http://dorothythornhill.mycouncillor.org.uk/2009/10/28/adventure-playgrounds-no-adults-please/

I think we should be told.

UPDATE 2.20pm: And what do we know. Heresy Corner has retrieved Mayor Thornhill's blogpost HERE, in which she defends the action. So, what prompted her to delete this blogpost if, as the LibDems say, this is a storm in a teacup?

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

She's known as Dotty in these parts,for obvious reasons.Why the good people of Watford voted for this loony tune twice is way beyond my comprehension.

Big Brother Watch said...

Story also available to read here: http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/home/2009/10/parents-replaced-by-play-rangers.html

Disgraceful

canvas said...

Iain, it's actually quite common for 'adults' not to be allowed in the playground. This is not new. It's been that way for a long time.

It's also not 'political correctness gone mad'.

yawnnnnnnn.

neil craig said...

More jobs for government play facilitators then.

That is the real purpose behind all these regulation - almost all of them are, if anything, counterproductive to safety but "the prime purpose of government spending is to pay government employees & their friends, the official purpose is, at best, secondary".(Pournelle)

Jess The Dog said...

If I ever venture past Watford with my young family in tow, I will be sure to visit these public playgrounds regardless of any "play facilitators".

A breathtaking waste of public money, an outrageous slur on the millions of prefectly capable parents like myself and my wife, and this requires mass defiance from Watford residents and others.

Anonymous said...

Think your being a little unfair here Iain. The Mayor's comments were more in the context of critcising the Government.

i.e. 'sadly, the Labour Government have gone so over the top on things like this that the Council could be challenged if we allowed parents to hang around.'

not 'sadly, all parents are pedofiles'

Paul Halsall said...

I agree with your point, entirely, Iain, but people with some responsibility for children really are between a rock and a hard place. This applies to social workers, politicians, teachers, etc.

We live in a time of constant paedophile and abuse stories - and if you are in position of responsibility and something goes wrong you will crucified in public.

Nick said...

This really is a story about nothing. Watford Council have put out a very strong rebutal and its worth a read.

http://bit.ly/1rEbWC

Jess The Dog said...

Last post didn't hit the spot....outrage still fizzing.

Parents should withdraw their children from schools for one week and refuse to pay council tax for one month. Remind them of who they are meant to serve.

Malcolm Tucker said...

What has this got to do with "political correctness"? Sounds more like a good old-fashioned "Peados on every corner" hysteria story.

Shame on the media and most bloggers for making such a fuss of this but playing down the quote from a clearly exasperated Ofsted person who essentially says "This is insane and has nothing to do with any of our regulations".

That said, given that the vast majority of child abuse is committed by family members rather than strangers, Watford might be on to something...

Unixman said...

I go swimming in a public pool ... shock horror: there are partially clothed children of both sexes there .. Should I have a CRB check?

ToryBanter said...

What is this chap thinking! LibDems seem to be just authoritarian bissy bossys.

LibDem Councillors stop mums and dad from looking after there kid they also block ambulance as cars were not allowed on the grass. http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2009/02/libdem-councillor-blocks-way-of-999.html

It shows the LibDems are more authoritarian than liberal.

Oww by the way Colin Rosenstiel was found guilty of failing to comply with paragraph 2(b) of the Council's Code of Conduct for Councillors.The panel also concluded Councillor Rosenstiel had brought his office of councillor into disrepute in breach of paragraph 4 of the code

The LibDem council came down hard and made him 'send a full personal, unqualified and unreserved written apology to the East of England Ambulance Service and the ambulance driver involved.'

Mark Senior said...

Whilst I would agree with you that the decision is way over the top and wrong you are stretching the hyperbole to breaking point by asking the question as to what it means to be a Liberal Democrat nowadays .
Let's draw a rough parallel and ask what does it mean to run a Conservative controlled County Council ? Judging from the actions of Essex CC , it means deliberately ignoring the judgement of the High Court and leaving 2 young children 11 and 13 to fend for themselves and look after their severely disabled father until they had to take the County Council back to the High Court for a second time .
Meanwhile their council leader , Lord Hanningfield , in between ripping of the taxpayer to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds in parliamentary expenses , manages to find the time to write an article for Conservativehome saying what a good job the council is doing cutting costs .
For the story of the court case see for example www.24dash.com in local government for 8th September . Read it Iain and hang your head in shame for being in the same party as the shower running Essex .

NickL said...

But, Iain, you and I know that this nonsense would not happen with a Conservative council.

Bucket of Tongues said...

@NickL

You get idiots of every political hue. Will the Conservatives be thoroughly dismantling the child-protection apparatus? I seriously doubt it. No one would dare to in case some child gets killed/raped/abducted. Which, sad to say, inevitably will happen some day.

j.collins said...

Hilarious. The sign off alone gives the game away:

The full background to the story is HERE in Metro.

Yes, the 'full background is clearly going to be found in a throwaway 'news' paper. The council's statement makes it blatantly obvious that there is no story here - just a classic 'loony council' story.

If you don't have time to find out about something, maybe you shouldn't spout off about it. It makes you look like an idiot.

DespairingLiberal said...

So that trustworthy source, "The Metro" (can it be long for this world, given the recent demise of another London freebie?) has said it is so, so it must be and because it is in The Metro, Master Dale and his frothing cronies are only too eager to trumpet the news.

Yet this is a complete and utter non-story. Throughout the UK, adults are not allowed unsupervised to enter managed places for children such as nursery schools and infants schools. Parents can enter once they have checked in with a member of staff.

Here is what the Council themselves say about it:

"Statement about Harwoods and Harebreaks Adventure Playground
Contrary to reports in the media, Watford Borough Council has not banned parents from public parks and playgrounds in the town!

The press have inaccurately reported what Harwoods and Harebreaks are; they are not open public facilites. They never have been. They are closed, fully supervised facilities.

They are no different to other fully supervised facilities, like schools, playgroups or nurseries - where adults are not allowed to stay.

Parents and carers are, of course, welcome to bring their children safely into the sites and settle them in.

If parents aren't happy leaving their children - there are lots of other options open to them. In the town, there are 4 community centres, 5 children’s centres, over 40 areas of park and playgrounds, as well as a museum, two libraries... These are also free to attend and open to everyone.
"

JuliaM said...

"yawnnnnnnn"

Keeping you up, canvas? I know, running around trying to put out fires for your masters is sooo trying, isn't it?

"More jobs for government play facilitators then."

Indeed.

"Think your being a little unfair here Iain. The Mayor's comments were more in the context of critcising the Government.

i.e. 'sadly, the Labour Government have gone so over the top on things like this that the Council could be challenged if we allowed parents to hang around.'"


Yes, becausse that's the way to show how useless and inadequate a policy is - slavishly follow it and even take it to the next level...

Nigel said...

>>it's actually quite common for 'adults' not to be allowed in the playground...<<

And very often these policies are misguided, having little to do with any understanding of what child safeguarding actually requires, and more to do with bureaucratic fear.

As Ofsted pointed out, the policy is nothing to do with their regulations.

Canvas, you might like to have a look at this organisation, paying particular attention to their open access case studies.
http://www.playengland.org.uk/Page.asp

Perhaps the Independent Safeguarding Authority would like to release some best practice advice on this issue ?

http://www.playengland.org.uk/Page.asp

Sim-O said...

Watfords' statement:

Contrary to reports in the media, Watford Borough Council has not banned parents from public parks and playgrounds in the town!

The press have inaccurately reported what Harwoods and Harebreaks are; they are not open public facilites. They never have been. They are closed, fully supervised facilities.

They are no different to other fully supervised facilities, like schools, playgroups or nurseries - where adults are not allowed to stay.

Parents and carers are, of course, welcome to bring their children safely into the sites and settle them in.

If parents aren't happy leaving their children - there are lots of other options open to them. In the town, there are 4 community centres, 5 children’s centres, over 40 areas of park and playgrounds, as well as a museum, two libraries... These are also free to attend and open to everyone.

JuliaM said...

*muses on what might have brought canvas out from under its rock*

Oh, look!

*chuckle*

"Nadine might not be finished yet."

No wonder the NuLab trolls are out in panic mode...

Auntie Flo' said...

"And for a supposedly 'Liberal' mayor to go along with this raises all sorts of questions about what it means to be a Liberal Democrat nowadays."

Exactly, Iain, which is one of the reasons - along with their blind obedience to the corrupt EU and betrayal tantamount to treason in respect of the Lisbon Treaty etc - that I and many others are no longer Liberals and support Cameron instead.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget where you have council "play facilitators" you will also need

"play facilitation managers"
(@£25K p.a.)
"Children's play policy and diversity co-ordinators"
(@£40K p.a)
"Chief executive of the children's play directorate"
(@£120k p.a)

Oh YES a whole new industry
Job creation??
It's child's play!

matt said...

Iain, you've totally missed the point with this story.

Parents are not banned from parks in Watford. These particular two parks are facilities where children can be left to play with an adult supervisor on hand (like a creche or nursery). It is entirely reasonable for the staff at these parks, who are obviously responsible for the children's safety, to specify that no adults should be allowed to roam around. Parents, guardians, relatives or whoever else are not allowed to roam around school corridors all day, so why is this any different?

Daniel1979 said...

well, if people are silly enough to vote Lib Dem in the first place...

NickofTime said...

So what will you (the conservatives, I mean) do about this kind of thing, which is happening with ever-increasing frequency, Iain? There is not a chance I would vote for labour, but then there never was, even in Blair's 'heyday' or at any other time. What I am no longer sure of is whether I would vote conservative now, as I am yet to be convinced that Cameron and his followers will change any of this or even has a desire to do so, should they be voted in at the next election.

Colm said...

As someone from Watford that knows Harwoods I would say that the driver behind this is health and safety rather than a worry about pedophiles. Harwoods is not a swings and roundabouts type of playground, it is an adventure playground featuring rope slides many feet up in the air, and Krypton factor style climbing walls, so supervision by qualified staff is completely justified. It is also runs along next to Vicarage Road, so there would be nothing to stop people watching form the public footpath anyway.

There are plenty of other bog standard playgrounds in Watford, such as in Cassiobury Park a few minutes away where as far as I know there are no restrictions.

Twig said...

the Mayor went ballistic when he heard about this and ordered all this PC stuff to be halted forthwith.

Uponnothing said...

Perhaps you should have done a little research Iain: http://www.angrymob.uponnothing.co.uk/home/70-newspaper-lies/755-contrary-to-media-reports

It is not a 'PC gone mad' story, but another example of newspapers lying and idiots repeating the lies as fact on blogs.

PIENOMICS said...

Hot water burns your hands, steps trip you up, anyone over 18 is a potential child molester. When is all this madness going to stop?

There might as well be signs outside every house warning that rain is wet and wind will mess your hair.

It's pathetic. In Blair n' Browns Britain no-one is responsible for their actions but everyone has rights.

Welcome to Planet Nu Labour where an army of politically correct cretins and do-gooders tell us what to do.

Well, not me guv. I took full advantage of my rights and got the hell out 7 years ago.

Fausty said...

This country is being dismantled by our 'government' - that sleazy band of degenerates.

Iain, I'm curious to know why the Tories have not been hopping up and down over the extension to the Proceeds of Crime act. It is a foul piece of legislation which leaves citizens defenceless against the government.

The government broke the rules implementing the order, which would've made the order an easy target for the opposition - but still not a peep out of the Tories.

Why might that be?

Can we assume that they fully intend to keep this vile legislation?

canvas said...

@juliaM "No wonder the NuLab trolls are out in panic mode."

"I like boring things", Andy Warhol

Wallenstein said...

Ouch. Just when you think Iain's settled into a stable patch of decent blogging, he pops up with another sub-Daily Mail piece of hysterical churnalism.

It's soooo frustrating! Most of the time one thinks "here's a reasonably sensible Tory writing decent posts on interesting topics", then a post like this arrives and it's back to cliched Shire Tories "Outraged of Tunbridge Wells" territory.

Mark Senior said...

Well , you are in full flow here Iain , trying to rebuild the Conservative campaign chances in Watford after the Ian Oakley affair , truth and objectiveness have no place in your thread .
How about a comment on the disgraceful treatment of two children in Essex whose lives have been harmed by the non action of the party you support .

ILLIBERAL DEMOCRATS said...

Sal Brinton Watford is not going to be helped by this LOL!


People wonder why I dont like Liberal Democrats! They say one thing and do another - they are the most stalinist party ever! LDV is a brillent example, they ban all comments not supportive of the LD.

If you look at Conservative Home they still publish troll comments because they know folk are intelllegent enough to dismiss it!

Liberal Democrats are a pointless party - I hope they disband after the next election. The members of the LD can then go home mainly to Labour whilst the Voters will go Home to the Conservatives!

JMT said...

I am always amazed that those who preach tolerance and freedom are in fact the most intolerant and authoritarian people around.

Unsworth said...

Do they allow this woman out on the streets these days? Is this all part of the Crazies In The Community scheme?

I quote: "I now live in Oxhey, with husband of 13 years, and fellow Lib Dem councillor Iain Sharpe, and have two lovely children, who are now adults.". Now that says quite a lot, doesn't it? Is she living with two people? Who's this Sharpe fellow, or is this just piss-poor punctuation? I think we should be told. And the rest of her site is all the usual 'Me, Me, Me, aren't I bleeding wonderful' bollox.

I always thought 'Facilitators' were quite a sinister group of people - this is mere confirmation.
Mind you, given the nature of the beast, I'd be quite happy to 'facilitate' the Delightful Dorothy's departure from this planet.

Elton John has much to answer for.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Who votes for these people. and of course the labour government does nothing to stop all this foolisness.It just watches and does nothing.

Unsworth said...

@ Canvas

Andy Warhol - one of the greatest intellects of modern times - and conman par excellence.

Michael Heaver said...

The LibDems aren't liberal nor are they democrats. This stuff should no longer surprise.

canvas said...

@unsworth - I'm aware of all that is Andy Warhol, thanks. :)

@wallenstein "back to cliched Shire Tories "Outraged of Tunbridge Wells" territory." Wally> You are absolutely correct - it's like panto. It's unreal. :)

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Excellentt point! - "Why not ban parents from having children, then? Wouldn't that save us all a lot of heartache worrying about paedophiles."

It would also save us from having to issue the little bleeders with asbos etc., fund a huge education budget, and put up with seeing surveys that show they think Simon Cowell is a hero.

Had you advocated this policy to the burghers of Bracknell, you would have been chosen!

Keith Elliott said...

Think you've got your wires crossed again, Mr Dail. Sorry Mr Dale. For a moment then I got you confused with the Daily Mail!

They are not 'public playgrounds in parks' as you claim and a basic check fo the facts would have revealed that.

'Tory, but not slavishly so,' is one of your tags. But it's just not true anymore. Like a great deal that is written on this blog.

TJUK2008 said...

If I was a parent dropping my child off at a children's activity, I would assume that the staff and/or volunteers running it would be CRB checked and have received the appropriate training. I wouldn't be to happy about someone unknown hanging around the session who was unknown to me, and unknown to the staff in charge. Just because they are a parent, does not mean they are certainly not a paedophile. I run children's activities, if parents want to stay at the session - great, but they need to go through the same process as staff and volunteers officially helping, and I think that is perfectly reasonable and that is what seems to be the case here, not as presented - parents being banned from playgrounds.

Mike Law said...

If you think that's crazy, the Labour Mayor of Newham has announced that he will be "saving" £70 Million over three years (for savings read re-allocating).

He claims that £15 Million was "saved" last year (odd, because I would have thought he would have trumpeted that at the time), £23 Million will be "saved" this year and £31 Million for next year - a total of erm, £69 Million.

He claims that he is doing this by spending money wisely and by making better decisions as there is now there is now “a leadership style that is performance and solution driven” - so what was he doing up till now?

This is all well and good, but until late last year he kept banging on about how Newham is being diddled out of £58 Million a year by government because Newham hasn't been categorized as an Inner-London borough - money he said Newham desperately needed.

Apart from the fact that, had he not re-examined the council's books because of the current economic climate, he's admitting that he would have wasted money at an increasing rate over the three years mentioned, I found it odd that the incremental rises are by £8 Million each year.

I suspect that an initial reallocation of funds took place last year and a further £8 Million has been identified for this year with a similar figure for next.

What I think the Mayor has done is add the second year's £8 Million to the first year's £15 Million to make £23 Million then added the third year's £8 Million to the £23 Million to make £31 Million. He then added the £15M to the £23M and the £31m totals to make £69M rounded up to £70 Million, where as the true figure re-allocated will be £31 Million over 3 years.

NeLabour accounting... no wonder the economy's f8#ked up!

Mike Law said...

Forgot to add:

Wasn't Vanessa George "police-checked"?

Anonymous said...

Why not ban parents from having children, then?

They're trying. Read up on recent developments in family law.

no longer anonymous said...

Irfan Ahmed is on the ball again:

Iain Dale, the Tory party blogger and Parliamentary hopeful (if he ever finds a seat) has just had a rant at a Lib Dem mayor from Watford for making the following comments:

'Sadly, in today's climate, you can't have adults walking around unchecked in a children's playground.'

My question to Iain Dale is what is wrong with the statement above? Nothing, the Mayor is right, we can not have strange people walking around children's playgrounds, and they need to be properly checked out whether you think it’s right or not.

Iain, if you were a father then you would have argued a different point on this issue, I am not yet a father myself, well I hope I'm not, but the issue is, that you and others need to accept the argument that unknown people should not be trusted with children unless they have been checked, full stop. It's that simple.

Iain has called the Mayor an “Illiberal”, how is it illiberal to set rules? Its people like that who shout illiberal when we ask for a limit on issues like the age to teach young children sexual education, the attacks on the Burka, etc.

In my view it isn't illiberal to set rules and I am sorry if Iain doesn’t like it but this is a rule that needs to be set.

Barking Spider said...

It has just been announced that human life can now be created in a lab without the need for parents. In vitro humans! What next - in vitro soldiers, bred for purpose?
With this government's record, any outrage is possible.

jim_uk said...

I remember being dropped off at one of those parks as a kid in the 70's, there were no parents hanging around back then either. While there is plenty to bash the Local Limp Dumps over in Watford this isn't one of them. Maybe the press would do better investigating the Watford Lib Dems and their association with the Moonies and their funding of a trip to Israel for Ms Thornhill.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear Iain, you really do need to stop taking news (sic) from Mail Online - it brings new meaning to the term that people judge you from the company you keep.

Anonymous said...

Where has the trust in people gone, this is a godless and awful place to care for and nurture children. Once it was a happy and secure playground, at least it was when I grew up.
A sledgehammer to crack a nut, like all nu-lab legislation.
Politicians have much to answer for, after Soham, they listened to such 'enlightened organs' who were reponsible for much of the public hysteria. Like the Newsofthescrews, look where that has lead us to, this appalling mess.
The effing nanny state loonies are running the asylum. Paedophiles are found 'close' to the particular childs' environment. It is an unfortunate fact but nonetheless true, thank goodness the crime of paedophilia is still like it always was a relatively rare occurence.

Mrs Clayton said...

To Canvas:

I have small children. It would be madness for me not to be in that playground supervising them. I'm their mother. It's my job. What next? Should we employ professional nappy changers and table manners consultants?

Bearing in mind that abuse of children occurs more often within the home - should we have government appointed au pairs until the children are sixteen?

If I decide to get all militant and push my child on the swing, and another child falls over and is ignored,- would I be prosecuted for picking him or her up and speaking soothingly to them before a what? a person who has gone through minimal training and is probably more frightening to the child than someone who is obviously a mummy arrives?

How does stranger danger when mummy and daddy are kept out work?

you NEVER know said...

I actually read this Metro article with much relief. Finally someone with a sensible approach to the dangers our children face on a daily basis. However, whilst I welcome this idea, it surely does not go far enough in protecting children from the millions of potential abusers who lurk in our midst. We need to be thinking about the other factors in children's day to day lives too.

Many people routinely walk past children completely unchecked. They also look at them sometimes too and in the very worst cases say hello to them. This is extremely worrying. So just as we have cycle lanes in towns, shouldn't we also have child lanes? These lanes would have high enough barriers so that the children would remain invisible to abusers and they could also have an in-built up hill gradient so that the child maintains a healthy body mass index too! There is no reason why these lanes cannot be extended to the countryside as well.

But we must not be complacent. Alongside paedophiles, there are also murderers out there. Shouldn't we be thinking about sending council officials to town centres, the countryside and anywhere else where there are potential people around? Potential rapists must not be allowed to stroll anywhere where there are large numbers of women too. A hairdressers for example or The Body Shop should certainly think about having a team of council officals on standby. Wouldn't we all feel much happier if we knew our children, wives or girlfriends were being supervised at all times by the local council?

The sad truth today in our evil and depraved society is that people cannot be allowed to simply wander around where there are people. The tragic consequences do not bear thinking about and I for one am glad that Watford Council and the government have recognised this.

Richard said...

Wow. Amazing how many people are blindly expressing outrage after multiple other commenters have pointed out that the article isn't based in truth and have linked to a statement from Watford Council which conclusively refutes it.

Nice farm you have here, Iain. You must make a fortune in wool and mutton.

Mike Law said...

@ you NEVER know...

Brilliant! I did have a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

Come on then Iain admit this is nonsense and your too lazy to conduct a simple bit of resaerch using google.

Bad Fairground Art said...

You people are as annoying as you are thick.

Try doing a bit of research before jerking your knees in unison, eh?

http://www.watford.gov.uk/ccm/content/strategic-services/home-page-content/statement-about-harwoods-and-harebreaks-adventure-playground.en

Keith Elliott said...

He won't admit anything of the sort. Iain Dail seems incapable of admitting he is wrong.

Almost makes me feel sorry for Anne Atkins. But then she actually represents the majority view of Conservative Party members, so actually it's the people of Britain I feel sorry for.

God help Britain when the Tories win next year. I'm glad to be overseas.