Watford’s liberal Lib Dem Mayor – what Iain Dale didn’t report

by Stephen Tall on October 29, 2009

Tory blogger Iain Dale should perhaps have paused before clicking ‘publish’ on his latest – highly inaccurate – post, How Very Illiberal of a LibDem Mayor. Those few seconds’ hesitation would have been sufficient for him to do a quick Google and find out what he was about to write was nonsense.

In his article, Iain recycled a Metro report to allege that Watford Borough Council (run by elected Lib Dem mayor Dorothy Thornhill) has “barred [parents] from public playgrounds in parks. Instead, they are forced to wait outside the railings whilst council-employed “play facilitators” assist the children.”

Iain describes the situation as “political correctness gone mad”. Which it would be. If it were at all true. But it’s not. It’s such an exaggeration of the truth as to be pretty much wholly untrue.

Here’s the categorical statement from Watford:

Contrary to reports in the media, Watford Borough Council has not banned parents from public parks and playgrounds in the town!

The press have inaccurately reported what Harwoods and Harebreaks are; they are not open public facilites. They never have been. They are closed, fully supervised facilities.

They are no different to other fully supervised facilities, like schools, playgroups or nurseries – where adults are not allowed to stay.

Parents and carers are, of course, welcome to bring their children safely into the sites and settle them in.

If parents aren’t happy leaving their children – there are lots of other options open to them. In the town, there are 4 community centres, 5 children’s centres, over 40 areas of park and playgrounds, as well as a museum, two libraries… These are also free to attend and open to everyone.

A couple of months ago, Iain was relentless in his criticism of LabourList and Liberal Conspiracy websites for resorting to ‘churnalism’ – the copy-and-paste-without-checking-sources habit that drives so much print and online media these days (and I don’t exempt Lib Dem Voice from the criticism). That’s schadenfreude for you, Iain.