Pavement chalk doodles? Not in Portsmouth, says council

Children chalking in Hawthorn Crescent Cosham
Children chalking in Hawthorn Crescent Cosham

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A MUM was told to clear up her children’s pavement chalk drawings as a council said they were ‘unsightly’.

Claire Brown’s children Charlotte, nine, and Scott, eight, spent the day doodling on a brick pillar and paving slabs with their friends.

But four days later Portsmouth City Council staff visited the home in Hawthorn Crescent, Cosham, and ordered Claire to wash away the colourful displays of monsters and aeroplanes.

The land – which contains residents’ sheds and washing lines – is looked after by the council.

Its estate services team had already tried clearing the artwork away but had trouble getting some of the chalk off.

The council defended its decision, saying it isn’t ‘unreasonable’ to ask parents to clear up after their children once they have finished playing.

But Claire, 29, wonders why there was a problem in the first place as she said it took her and neighbour Eileen Burnett, 70, a matter of minutes to get rid of the drawings with two buckets of water.

She said: ‘It’s absolutely ridiculous.

‘I’m baffled.

‘The drawings were done with chalk, which washes off so easily. It’s not like it was paint.

‘When I was little I used to draw pictures with chalk with my friends outside all the time.

‘It was what everybody did.

‘I don’t understand the council’s attitude towards this.

‘The children are unhappy because they were proud of their artwork.

‘Now it’s been taken away from them.’

Neighbour Eileen added: ‘I saw an advert on the television recently which said let children play.

‘How can they if they’re always being told off for doing so?’

Steve Macer, area housing manager for the council, defended their intervention.

He said: ‘We completely understand that it is the summer holidays and children want to have fun playing outside.

‘The brickwork the children used was in a communal area and as the landlord we have to consider all the residents.

‘It isn’t unreasonable to ask that children are supervised and that parents or guardians clear up after their children have finished playing.

‘In this case although initially colourful, rain washing the bricks over time would make the area more and more unsightly.’