No matter how many cuts the government have to make, no one should ever have to watch a children’s slide being crushed by a bulldozer. Wandsworth Council clearly agree. Before sending in heavy machinery to tear down Battersea Park’s adventure playground they sealed off the area so neither TV crews or dog walkers, nor the Occupy London protesters who had been there for the past three weeks could get anywhere near.
Since dogs have no regard for the law or places they’re not supposed to go, I sent in Rufus the beagle – who I was walking – to investigate. Unfortunately, he is more interested in eating rubbish out of bins and it was impossible to understand what he had to say with half a Cornish pasty in his mouth.
A group of evicted protesters were hovering about outside the park’s fence, trying to poke camera phones through more police tape than you’d see at a murder scene. I asked them what they were going to do next. “What can we do?” they replied, despondently staring into their Boden flasks of coffee. “Whatever the outcome, you’re doing a great job,” I told them. That seemed to cheer them up. But was it really true? Surely, if they were doing a great job they wouldn’t have been chucked out. They’d be still chained to a climbing frame or laid with arms interlocked in front of the rapidly approaching teeth of diggers.
The council is apparently going to install new playground equipment. This will be cheaper because it won’t require staff to supervise it – something that hardly makes it sound ‘adventurous’ like the zip wires and rope bridges that were there before and used by older children and teenagers.
The protesters suggest that the council are all white and middle class, but from what I can see, so are they. Pretty much everyone who comes to the park is. Maybe that’s the problem. The people who use the adventure playground like it, but they don’t really need it. If they did they’d be shouting ‘scab’ at the workmen knocking it down and forming a picket line to prevent them from getting past. What kind of a person goes to work to knock down a playground anyway?