Kids on a Nottinghamshire street have been banned from playing football in front of their own houses. Their parents were even threatened with a £100 fine if they were caught.
It all kicked off after neighbours in Ena Avenue, Sneinton moaned to police about noisy children playing football in the street. They said they were worried a ball would smash a window or damage a car.
Officers said there were enough complaints to warrant a letter to parents warning them against rowdy behaviour that might damage property and letting them know they could be fined if their kids stepped out of line.
It’s not the first time children have been given a metaphorical clip round the ear for having fun.
Last summer, housing officials in Worcester sent four families in Wensleydale Drive a letter warning kids about playing in the street on health and safety grounds.
Not everyone has a nearby park or rolling meadow to run around in.
Not all 'natural play' involves rural idyll: urban public space is a playable blank canvas. https://t.co/CRrDbil3Js— Alice Ferguson (@aliceplayingout) April 20, 2015
Gone are the days when kids used to turn up unannounced on a friend’s doorstep, asking if they could come out and play.
Whatever happened to jumpers for goalposts and using chalky stones to draw hopscotch on the pavement?
Our children already live comparatively sedentary lives. So do adults, for that matter. Dads are more likely to be screaming at the ref on the telly and checking out the football betting news online than they are to grab a pair of shorts before heading off for a sweaty game of five-a-side.
It’s just odd that we’re told our children need more fresh air and exercise and, in the same breath, told to keep them indoors.
Perhaps this is just nostalgia talking. These kids from the 1950s grew up in a different world.
There’s more traffic around for a start which makes playing out a lot more dangerous than it was in our parents’ day.
But there’s also a lot more going on inside the house to keep kids happily entertained without setting foot outside the front door.
Loads of television and music channels, video and computer games create a virtual world that’s so much more tantalising than the real one.
Even texting and social media mean kids don’t actually have to see their friends to have fun with them.
The very idea of riding your bike up and down the street or skipping happily to a song in your head is now so far removed from normal life that campaigners have launched a nationwide scheme to bring it back.
Playing Out was set up in Bristol in 2009 when a group of parents desperate to introduce independent outdoor play to their children closed off their road to traffic for three hours.
Now the scheme has been rolled out throughout the country with more than 30 local councils signing up to positive street play policies. And more than 100 streets are regularly closed off to allow kids to play happily and safely for a few hours.
The project is helping families reclaim their share of the streets. It’s their neighbourhood too.
**Written By Jenna Wilson, Jenna is a freelance writer and mum of two from Nottingham. When she’s not running around after the kids she enjoys gardening, reading and a glass of wine or two!