Sara Bedford on the Watford play areas ‘Flat Earth News’ day

I reported here on LDV this afternoon on the serious mis-reporting of Watford Borough Council’s children’s adventure playgrounds policy, indulged by Iain Dale and some newspapers.

For all the media attempts to stir-up some cliched ‘political correctness gone mad’ controversy, it’s clear that Lib Dem Mayor Dorothy Thornhill has acted sensibly and straightforwardly throughout. I hope all those who have copy ‘n’ pasted the mythologised story without first verifying their sources will now ensure they amend their articles to reflect the facts.

One person who does know what she’s talking about – both as a near-by councillor, and as the mother of a child who uses the play areas in question – is Lib Dem blogger Sara Bedford. Here’s an excerpt from her article on the issue:

On the day that we learned that Gordon Brown hadn’t actually been asked to name his favourite biscuit, Flat Earth news leaves the net and shuffles sideways to Watford with this story about Watford Council’s adventure playschemes. The schemes, based at two play areas at opposite ends of the town, are different from other play facilities in that they are designed to be more stretching that a ‘normal’ play area and are opened only under the supervision of professional staff. Children are registered and the scheme runs like any other playscheme, with trained staff and no parents. …

For those of you still not convinced, I ask you two questions. Firstly, would you be happy if other parents turned up in your child’s playground at lunchtime, ignored the instructions of the teachers and started yelling at your child? And secondly, how would you feel if you left your child at a supervised event and found that they had been hurt when the supervisors had been distracted by dealing with a parent on the site? If you tell me that those issues do not concern you, then you are someone who put politics above the safety of children.

It’s well worth reading in full – you can do so here.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Perhaps some should tell Mike Smithson at Political Betting, a Libdem himself, whos swallowed the nonsense whole.

  • Once again – if you’re in a hole, stop digging. Badly concocted rebuttals which take 24 hours to appear aren’t going to convince anyone. People are very very angry about all this authoritarian pseudo child protection rubbish. Stop making it worse with arrogant disregard for that anger.

    The refusal on this site to accept that there is a problem here has been abysmal.

  • Presumably the same people who are angry about the ‘psuedo-child protection rubbish’ are the same group of tabloid readers who were upset that ‘the government’ wasn’t doing enough the last scare ago.

    This story is a typical example of metro nonsence this is after all a paper that gets a lot of its news by reprinting marketing press releases.

  • The story as I read it was that parents could previously take their children to this playground but now they could not. This is not particularly well refuted in the article above. Has this come about because the playgrounds have been made significantly more dangerous? If not then what is the argument for extra curtailing of liberty? Have there been a series of accidents at the playground? Maybe a series of near-misses?

    Either-way phrases like “how would you feel if you left your child at a supervised event and found that they had been hurt when the supervisors had been distracted by dealing with a parent on the site?”

    Are terrible, can be used to justify anything and shouldn’t be showing up anywhere.

    “How would you feel if the playground turned out to be employing pedophiles! Not only Pedophiles but CANNIBAL PEDOPHILES! and they ATE your child because you weren’t there watching! HOW WOULD YOU FEEL!” Clearly the parents must insist on attending and observing! This hypothetical situation invoked without recourse to any evidence is too horrific to imagine! Won’t someone please think of the children!


  • Jessica Ashman 30th Oct '09 - 11:56am

    why does not re-printing with the lib dem spin = “mis-reporting”?

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