Battersea Park Charity Calls On Playground Squatters to Go

As Council takes legal action to remove them from the site

The Friends of Battersea Park is echoing calls for a group of
squatters to end their occupation of the park’s
adventure playground.

The charity's intervention follows calls earlierthis week from the town hall for the squatters to leave immediately.

Their arrival in the park has forced the council to close a number of adjacent children's play facilities, including the neighbouring one o'clock centre.

The squatters do not have any sanitary arrangements in place and have also lit fires in the playground rendering it unsafe for children.

The chairman of the Friends of Battersea Park, Frances Radcliffe, has now issued a statement on behalf of local park users.

It reads: "The Friends of Battersea Park do not support the occupation of the adventure playground which has led to the closure of the one o'clock club and the children's playground.

"It also puts at risk the opening of the new adventure playground in time for the Easter holidays. We understand that the council are looking at organised activities at busy periods in the adventure playground and we await the outcome."

The council is now taking legal action to remove the squatters from the site so that services for local residents can resume and a widescale programme of improvements at the playground can get underway. Last year the council unveiled plans to invest £200,000 in new play facilities at the site following extensive public consultation.

The Friends of Battersea Park is a registered charity formed in 1988 'to help maintain and improve the park as an oasis of tranquillity, natural beauty and recreation'.

Its aims are to provide 'a responsible group of people whom Wandsworth Council can consult as representatives of park users; to preserve the natural and historic layout of the park, and monitor any proposed changes; to organise walks and lectures and raise funds in order to make other positive contributions to the park's amenities'.

The squatters who are occupying the playground are part of the same group that occupied the square outside St Paul's Cathedral last year.

They are not from the local area. According to local media reports they come from places like Walthamstow and Hackney while one is also said to have travelled to Battersea from Leicester.

Last summer 92 per cent of visitors to Battersea Park adventure playground were under 12 with the biggest group of users (54 per cent) aged between five and eight and almost always accompanied by parents or carers.

January 9, 2013