A swing­ing of­fence

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

GREY LYNN res­i­dents are gob­s­macked at an Auck­land City Coun­cil de­ci­sion to cut down a pop­u­lar road­side swing.

Rich­mond Rd res­i­dent John Pak­en­ham was shocked to dis­cover a coun­cil ve­hi­cle parked out­side his prop­erty last week as of­fi­cers cut down the rope swing from a tree on his verge.

The swing, which Mr Pak­en­ham put up for his grand­chil­dren al­most two years ago, has be­come pop­u­lar with lo­cal chil­dren and pupils walk­ing to and from Rich­mond Road School.

Coun­cil of­fi­cers told him they had been or­dered to take down the swing be­cause it was haz­ardous and posed a light­ning threat.

“It’s pretty ir­ra­tional,” says Mr Pak­en­ham.

The swing had been taken down a cou­ple of weeks ear­lier but, un­aware the coun­cil was be­hind it, he put it back up.

T he sec­ond time coun­cil of­fi­cers had cut the ropes be­fore he went out­side and re­alised what was hap­pen­ing.

Al­though Mr Pak­en­ham says he re­alises swings can be danger­ous if left un­su­per­vised, this one was well back from the road, made from sturdy rope and he had never re­ceived any com­plaints or was aware of any ac­ci­dents.

There are sev­eral other kerb­side swings in the area, he says, which have not been taken down.

Mr Pak­en­ham says the sit­u­a­tion has left him frus­trated. He has con­tacted the coun­cil sev­eral times over re­cent years about other danger­ous haz­ards in the area such as bro­ken glass.

His wife was left with a badly sprained an­kle af­ter fall­ing on a bro­ken foot­path, but Mr Pak­en­ham says it was more than a year be­fore coun­cil re­paired it.

“For real haz­ards they did noth­ing,” he says.

He says the most con­cern­ing thing for him is the mes­sage it sends about com­mu­nity spirit.

“What they’ve done is per­fectly le­gal,” he says. “But they also have to re­mem­ber the spirit of the law.

“It’s send­ing the mes­sage that any kind of risk is un­ac­cept­able and that’s a very danger­ous mes­sage.”

Grey Lynn res­i­dent Adri­enne Bell says her two chil­dren, aged nine and six, both used the swing on their way to and from Rich­mond Road School ev­ery day and she was never wor­ried about it be­ing danger­ous.

“It didn’t seem un­safe to me,” she says.

“I’ve got a swing out­side my own house that lots of chil­dren play on. I think it’s good.”

The coun­cil’s street amenity ser­vices man­ager Kevin Mar­riot says the swing was not only a risk to users, but also to the tree.

“Auck­land City Coun­cil doesn’t favour struc­tures within trees be­cause they can dam­age the tree and weaken its branches which poses a risk not only to the tree, but also mem­bers of the pub­lic.”

Mr Mar­riot says the swing was also danger­ous be­cause it was so close to a main ar­te­rial road and within close prox­im­ity of over­head power lines.

He says there are sev­eral re­serves in the area, in­clud­ing Moira Re­serve and Ver­mont St, that have play­ground equip­ment that is safe to use.

What do you think? Has the coun­cil gone too far or did it do the right thing in the in­ter­est of safety? Email edcl@snl.co.nz.

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