Council scraps plans to charge locals more than £200 for children to safely play in the street

By Tara O’Connor, local democracy reporter

Croydon Council has scrapped plans to charge locals more than £200 for children to safely play in the street.

Play Streets were first trialled in Croydon in 2015 and sees roads closed off for a few hours to allow children to play without traffic.

Sue Ahmad was “shocked and angered” when she was told that there would be a charge of £234 to get a new licence for a play street that has been running in Thornton Heath since 2018.

Between March and October, Livingstone Road is closed to through traffic for three hours on every second Sunday of the month.

Ahmad first contacted the council by email in March and a month later was told there could be a charge due to the financial crisis at the council.

This was confirmed to her in writing on June 4. The email stated that the £234 charge was to advertise that the road will be closed, despite it not being a legal obligation.

Sue says the play street in her neighbourhood has made the community stronger, with children and adults alike spending more time together as a result.

The mum said: “I was shocked and angered when the council finally told me that they were implementing a charge to the volunteers for the national free play street scheme backed by the government when no other borough charges.

“It’s ludicrous that they should charge for something they do not need to charge.”

Now Croydon Council says it will not go ahead with the fee and that nobody has been charged yet.

Cabinet member for sustainable Croydon, councillor Muhammad Ali, said: “We have not charged anyone applying to hold a play street event, and the council will continue to support these applications without any charges.”

Cllr Ali was copied into an email thread between Ms Ahmad and the council’s place department on the subject of the fees.

He would not elaborate on why the organisers of play streets were told there would be a charge or why the charge was dropped.

The council has been under pressure from the public to drop the fees and in the past two weeks more than 600 people signed a petition calling it to reconsider.

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