Another day, another Tory council planning to charge kids to play

Shamik Das reports on Tory-run Bexley council's plans to charge kids to use a playground - following on from Tory Wandsworth's plans to do the same last month.

Just last month, Tory-run Wandsworth announced plans to charge kids £2.50 to use a playground. Now, Tory Bexley is planning to do the same, charging kids to play, pricing the poor out of the playground. They plan to charge children at least £1 to use Belvedere Splash Park – a plan not subject to any public consultation, a plan which the council admits will disproportionately hit those on lower incomes.

And, just like Wandsworth – whose leader was recently appointed Boris Johnson’s chief of staff – Bexley also has close links to the Mayor. In 2008 he appointed council leader Ian Clement to be his deputy mayor and in February he appointed current Tory council leader, Teresa O’Neill, as his outer London adviser.

Labour’s candidate for 2012 Ken Livingstone said of the plans:

“A disturbing theme is emerging across London. Every time a London Tory council leader decides to charge kids to play, Boris Johnson gives them a senior role in his administration.

“Hundreds of thousands of families in London are being squeezed with higher fares and cuts. I share the growing concerns about the direction of Boris Johnson’s administration with so many of his key advisers behind these ‘pay to play’ proposals.”

As we’ve said before on this blog, the divide between the sporting opportunities granted the privileged and those offered the poor are growing, from playgrounds and playing fields to the Olympics and Test cricket, background is having an ever greater say in outcomes – something the likes of Boris, David Cameron and George Osborne are not only unable to understand, but are actually making worse.

Not all kids go to schools that can boast 12 squash courts, 20 tennis courts, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, four cricket fields, a nine-hole golf course, rowing on the lake that will host the 2012 Olympics, perfectly mown outfields…

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