A mum has slammed a divisive sign outside a play area which bans ‘poorer’ children from using it.
Becca Martin took her four-year-old child Charlie for a trip to the playground during the summer at the Fairways Estate in Wrexham, Wales - but what greeted the mother and son was a rather univiting sign on the gate.
The notice on the park gate reads: “The play areas and open spaces are for the exclusive use of the residents of the Fairways Estate and their invitees and no others.”
Signed by Holmzone Limited, a resident management company, the brand charges residents who live on the estate an annual fee to pay for the park’s upkeep.
Taking to Facebook on 25 June, the councillor of the Maesydre ward in Wrexham Council said she was ‘angered’ and ‘upset’ by the unwelcoming post which meant they were not allowed to enter unless they lived inside the estate or were friends with the residents there.
She wrote: “I can't even begin to explain how much this has angered and upset me. Every child deserves a safe space to play, regardless of where they live.
“Edit* I am aware residents pay a maintenance fee for the upkeep of the play area and open spaces however that is NOT the issue here.
"I'm not upset because my child is no longer ‘allowed’ to use it (quite frankly it's unenforceable and wouldn't stop me taking him there in any case) the issue is that sign enforces a feeling on my child that he's not welcome in that area because we can't afford the £300,000 needed to purchase a house there.
She asked: “What sort of example does that set to our children, the future of our country, our world?”
“I have and will continue to teach Charlie that each and every person we encounter in life has just as much right to their own beliefs, to go where they want, be who they want, do what they want (as long as morally right of course) regardless of any characteristic including financial status.
“This sign is teaching our children that those without the funds to reside in a middle-class estate are not worthy of being allowed to play on the playground or the surrounding areas. This is a belief that could follow them into adulthood.”
Onlookers have taken to the comments to share their frustration on behalf of children who may be missing out as a result of the sign.
“That’s just plain horrible, regardless of who pays for the upkeep,” Carrie said, while Ess reflected on the ‘divide’ which can be created through signs like this.
“That's really sad. I understand that anti-social behaviour may be causing problems there, but the sad fact is that it won't keep out anyone who wants to get in - and what it will do is send a sad and divisive message to the children that do use it.
“It's teaching an 'us and them' mentality that I personally don't think is a good message to send to young children.”
A spokesperson for Holmzone Limited told The Mirror: “We fully agree that all children should have access to safe and appropriate places to play, but providing that for everyone in Wrexham is not the job of those who live on this estate.
“It appears that Cllr Martin is unaware that the open spaces on the estate, including the two playgrounds, are privately owned and maintained, in accordance with the requirements of planning consent given for the estate 20 years ago.
“People who purchase a house on the estate are required to pay an annual charge, in addition to their council tax, to maintain this estate’s grounds and play areas as shared amenities for the residents.
"The signs are in place to provide clarity on the rules that we ask people to respect to ensure the playgrounds are available for children to use.”
They added: “Children of friends and families of residents on the estate have always been welcome, as the sign says.
"Neither of our ward councillors have ever raised this is as an issue before but we are always happy to meet and discuss with them should they wish to do so.”
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