I have written before about street parties for special events such as a celebration involving the Royal Family.
They can be most enjoyable and foster greater community spirit for both adults and children.
A report from Play England recommends that Councils encourage regular temporary street closures, for example, for three hour slots once a week after school. This allows children to learn to ride a bike, play football or hopscotch, or just chat. It also gives parents a chance to chat and provide refreshment while supervising the children. They also act as stewards to allow residents to drive in and park safely.
The Sunday Times has reported on examples of where the arrangement is thriving. It operates regularly in 500 residential streets in Britain – including over a hundred in Bristol. In London it has taken off in Ealing, Hackney and Haringey and even being given a push in Greenwich.
What about Hammersmith and Fulham? At present we have no streets regularly taking part.
The Council’s Head of Transport Policy and Network Management tells me:
“We support the play street project and will assist residents who want to have events in their street.
“So far we have had pilot events in Roxwell Street and Galloway Road, but we haven’t had any requests yet for regular closures.”
Why should this be? Are the children of Ealing inherently better at hopscotch? Are the parents of Greenwich endowed with some special skill at making ham sandwiches and lemonade?
I suspect there would be plenty of participation in our borough if the Council actively encouraged applications.
You can apply here filling in the street parties form. But it doesn’t make clear that the application can be for a regular series – rather than having to fill in the form again for each week.
I am always hesitant to make partisan points. However I would mention in passing that three years ago Labour’s council election manifesto pledged:
“Support communities in local streets to facilitate temporary closures to become play streets.”
Since then it has been quietly forgotten. The “support” has been negligible. We can see from elsewhere in the country that safe outdoor play can flourish where a local authority provides genuine encouragement. We don’t have that in our borough.
But I still hope you will consider it for your street. Please let me know how you get on.