A swinging offence
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.