Councillor Becca Martin says she took her son Charlie to the private playground on the Fairways Estate off Holt Road, Wrexham on Saturday, June 25. But the mum was left stunned to be greeted by a sign informing she and her four-year-old were not allowed to enter as they live outside of the estate, where she says houses can go for as much as £300,000.
Local estate agents describe the Wrexham Fairways development as being “highly sought after”.
But the notice states: “The play areas and open spaces are for the exclusive use of the residents of the Fairways Estate and their invitees and no others.”
The sign is understood to have been put up by Holmzone Limited, a resident-controlled management company, which charges people who live on the estate an annual fee to pay for the park’s upkeep. Directors said it was justified due to the playground being privately owned and maintained.
But Cllr Martin, 33, told North Wales Live that the sign sent out a negative message to children from families who can’t afford to live there that they aren’t worthy of using the play facilities.
In a post shared on Facebook, she said: “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.
“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. The issue is that 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.
“What sort of example does that set to our children, the future of our country, our world?”
Cllr Martin said she believed the rule was unenforceable and would not deter her from taking her son to the play area. Other Facebook users also expressed their anger over the sign.
One person said: “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. What it will do is to send a sad and divisive message to the children that do use it.”
Another said: “I’ve never heard of anything like that! To me, playgrounds are for everyone.”
But some said they agreed that only those who pay to maintain the play area should be allowed to use it.
A spokesperson for Holmzone Limited said: “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.”