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Blackbird Leys families protest against ban on ball games
FAMILIES in an Oxford street are protesting against council rules which stop their children playing football outside their homes.
Three young families in Furlong Street, Blackbird Leys, last month received letters from CANAcT, the Crime and Nuisance Action Team, due to the complaints of neighbours.
The children, aged between nine and 11, used to play on a grass patch at the end of the street.
But Oxford City Council said the children should play in a nearby park.
Council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “We had received some complaints from nearby residents about children kicking footballs against walls and going into gardens which can be a nuisance for some residents.
“We have reminded them of the park that is nearby and informed them of the Positive Futures scheme. We hope that they will engage with Positive Futures which provides activities outside of school hours.”
Mum-of-three Ann Davey, 33, said: “There are three young families living on the top floor of these maisonettes here.
“There are six children here and five of those are boys. And what do boys want to do? They want to play football.”
Ms Davey, mum to nine-year-old twins Tyler and Connor, said they used to play in a communal garden until the council planted large shrubs there. They then moved to the street but have now been warned to stop.
Ms Davey said: “Neighbours complained when the boys knocked on the door to ask for their ball back.
“But then they complain when the boys, after being ignored, jump over the fence to get it instead.
“I know the neighbours will say ‘they should play somewhere else’. But there is literally nowhere else for them to go.”
Furlong Close is situated very close to a park, but the parents say their children are too young to go there alone.
Following complaints from neighbours, the three families received letters from CANAcT, run by the city council.
The letter, dated June 27, says: “It is not acceptable for people to play ball games in Furlong Close. There are appropriate facilities available for this nearby.”
It also says Community Response Teams will be patrolling the area to make sure the rules were followed.
‘No Ball Games’ signs have been put up around the street.
Jan Cosgrove, national secretary for campaign group Fair Play for Children, said: “In the last four decades, we have removed around 750,000 acres of free space for children to play in.
“We have to ask ourselves what the consequences are for keeping our children cooped up because we have reached a crisis.
“A balance needs to be struck.”