Waltham Forest’s parks will not return to normal opening hours despite residents’ concerns to avoid stretching police and council resources, the deputy council leader has explained.

The council decided in early April to close all parks at 6pm to curb anti-social behaviour during lockdown but have recently relaxed this to 7pm.

Many residents have complained that limited opening hours could increase crowding and prevent key workers from being able to exercise after work.

However, deputy council leader Cllr Clyde Loakes said the council receives daily reports of anti-social behaviour in the evenings and that resources are “better spent elsewhere keeping the community safe”.

Read more: Hundreds of groups dispersed over Easter weekend

He said: “We know how important parks and open spaces are to our residents, and especially those who do not have gardens. However, we have a responsibility to ensure that the users of our parks and our officers are safe.

“The frequency of anti-social behaviour increases in the evening, and we receive numerous calls on a daily basis about this behaviour.

“At the moment, our resources and those of our police colleagues are stretched and these resources are better spent elsewhere keeping the community safe rather than dealing with the poor behaviour of a minority of park users in the evenings.”

Over the early May bank holiday, enforcement officers dispersed around 1,300 people across the borough who were breaking lockdown guidelines.

Shutting parks early is an 'overreaction'

However, residents like Rory Fitzgerald, of Somers Road in Walthamstow, feel the Council is “punishing us all for the actions of a tiny minority”.

He said: “Shutting all parks early rather than only those most impacted by antisocial behaviour is an overreaction.

“Whilst the rights of park keepers to work safely is important this must be balanced by the needs of residents to exercise too.

“With the Government now allowing people to spend more time outdoors for their own wellbeing, it is surely time for the council to reconsider their regressive policy.”

Cllr Loakes has said parks will reopen when the council has the resources to “ensure that people using our open spaces can do so safely, and that our staff and police partners are safe also”.

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