View from Westminster: Rota for parks would help families without gardens of their own

Katherine Johnston (15 April, 2020)

'What about advising those who live in houses with gardens not to use the parks? They can use their own gardens and walk on the streets' says the Camberwell and Peckham MP

31615Harriet Harman

In the face of this unprecedented Coronavirus crisis the government is rightly telling people to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, to protect our NHS and to save lives, writes Harriet Harman…

However for many families in Camberwell and Peckham this is much harder than it is for others. Camberwell and Peckham has, of all the constituencies in the country, the highest number of families living in council or housing association flats. It is really hard for parents with young children who live in small flats with no outside space. During this lockdown here’s no nursery or play group and no chance to pop round to hang out with a group of friends. For these families it’s crucial to have the opportunity to spend one hour getting a breath of fresh air and for the children to be able to run around.

We have wonderful green spaces in Camberwell and Peckham, from big areas like Burgess Park and Peckham Rye to little gems like Camberwell Green and Lucas Gardens. But as it the weather gets hotter they’re getting more crowded. Our parks are a precious public asset. In this lockdown they need to be for those who need them most, local people who don’t have gardens.

I’m suggesting that there should be a rota for our public green spaces. So that you would know that on a particular day your estate would have priority on a park.

What about advising those who live in houses with gardens not to use the parks? They can use their own gardens and walk on the streets.

And what about having a radical extension of road closures? There is so little traffic. Side roads could be closed except for access. That would take the pressure off the parks as people could walk in the street instead of crowding onto pavements. Its hard to keep two meters apart when you are wheeling your buggy on a narrow pavement. And a rota would reduce the danger of the few cars that are on the road speeding dangerously because of the lack of traffic. Let’s give the roads over to people walking and cycling.

Most people are abiding by the social distancing rules. The police are there to check up on those who don’t. Let’s make this lockdown more bearable for children cooped up in flats by giving them the freedom of our parks and lets make out streets safer by giving children, not cars, priority in our streets.

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