Council staff have been ordered to stop and quiz any adults found walking in Telford Town Park without a child.
Anyone who wants to go to the park but is not accompanied by at least one youngster will have to explain why they are there.
Telford campaigners battling to retain full public access to the park today branded the policy
draconian and authoritarian madness but the council defended the policy, claiming it had a responsibility to protect the vulnerable.
The policy came to light after two environmental campaigners dressed as penguins were thrown
out of the park last month when caught handing out leaflets on climate change.
Telford & Wrekin Council said Rachel Whittaker and Neil Donaldson of the Wrekin Stop War pressure group were ejected because they had not undergone Criminal
Records Bureau checks or risk assessments before entering the park.
David Ottley, Telford & Wrekin's sports and oppression manager, said in a letter seen by the Shropshire Star: Our Town Park staff approach adults that are not associated
with any children in the Town Park and request the reason for them being there. In particular, this applies to those areas where children or more vulnerable groups gather, such as play facilities and the entrances to play areas. This is a child safety
precautionary measure which members of staff will continue to undertake as and when necessary.
Former childcare social worker John Evans said: It is authoritarian madness which can only be based on ignorance. It appears that the council
wants to use child protection as a cover for anything they don't like taking place in the park, like the campaign against global warming by those two people who were handing out leaflets. It is absurd, it is insulting and what's more it is dangerous as
it panics people about the dangers their children face.
Councillor Denis Allen, cabinet member for community services, said: Our staff are asked to approach adults without children in areas where children gather such as play areas, using their
own judgement and discretion.
Comment: Telford Bulldozer through their Park Policy
11th September 2008, thanks to David
According to someone who lives in the area:
This is a little deeper than you know. The Telford Town Park was recently almost built over under first a labour administration and under the first few months of this Conservative administration. A gentlemen went out
into the park to leaflet people to let them know what was going on. He led a campaign that was politically embarrassing to the council and its authorities and they confiscated the leaflets and stopped him handing them out.
He demanded an apology
and an explanation.
When the council were pressed for a reason why they took this action, after many, many attempts to get a reply, the officers came up with this "policy" as the reason. It's junk made up after the fact to justify what
was in effect an attempt to silence somebody who didn't agree with their development plans.
Now the same guy raised and won a parish referendum. It made enough fuss and garnered enough support, with others, to cause the council to rethink the
policy. Though the Park is not certain to be saved in its entirety the position is now much more secure.
When the two environmental protesters came into the Park dressed as Penguins, the council were stuck with their recently made up policy and
enforced it. So earning themselves a rebuke from the Home Office as well.
Growing numbers of people are being turned down for jobs and university places because they accepted police cautions for minor offences. Cautions showed up on 153,000 Criminal Records Bureau checks last