Auckland Council demands that a Sandringham resident take down a swing he set up for his kids on a council berm are unreasonable, according to most Herald readers.

Parents in Calgary St are shocked to have been slapped with notices ordering them to dismantle swings, loved by children, outside their homes in the name of safety and tree health.

But the council says it is responding to a complaint rather than running a city-wide crackdown on street swings.

An online Herald poll has revealed readers overwhelmingly agree with locals that the council had gone too far by asking for the swings to be taken down.


Nearly nine out of 10 of 3800 respondents said the council should leave the swings alone, whereas 11 per cent said the council made the right decision and the swings were a safety hazard.

Lucy Lord, 8, enjoying the condemned swing on the council berm outside the family home in Sandringham, Auckland. Photo / Martin Johnston
Lucy Lord, 8, enjoying the condemned swing on the council berm outside the family home in Sandringham, Auckland. Photo / Martin Johnston

Peter Lord was told via a card left by a council official last month that the replacement swing he had put up in a tree only weeks earlier for his three daughters, aged 8, 11 and 12, breached the Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw.

"In the interest of public safety," the card reads, "please remove the swing by 10/2/2017 (if it belongs to you). Alternatively council may seize the swing from public land."

Lord told the Herald: "I just see it as council being over the top."

"They expect us to look after the berm but it's their tree when it suits them," said Lord, who willingly mows the council's grass outside his home. He intends to remove the swing.

"If they really do think it's a nuisance, what's the nuisance? If it's a safety thing, it's fine for me to have a swing out the back. It's not like it swings out onto the road."

Calgary St is designated as a slow traffic zone and has speed bumps.

Another family in the street said a council officer had visited twice to demand the removal of a swing on the berm used by their young children. The family didn't comply, then noticed the swing had been removed.


Kirsty Gendall, a member of the extended family, posted on the social medium Neighbourly: "Our two kids used it, as well as a lot of passing families. One of our little ones had developed a new friendship with a local child and they would hang out there in the afternoons sometimes.

"Well, clearly, this was too much for some neighbour who complained to the council about it.

"It is so sad to think that what was providing a little community fun and neighbourliness upset a local so much that they would complain to the council, and that the council would insist on its removal.

"Shame on that 'neighbour', and shame on the council!"

Gendall didn't respond to Herald inquiries.

Two neighbours interviewed by the Herald, both of whom requested anonymity, said they had not complained and did not know who had.

But they said removal of street swings made sense, in the interests of children's safety.

"Safety-wise, with the amount of traffic, I think it is safe to take them down," said one of the women. "We don't want anyone to break their arms or anything."

Starship children's hospital emergency physician Dr Mike Shepherd said there was a risk of strangulation with rope swings, but cases were rare.

"There are safer swings, but I don't think that means a rope swing in itself is intrinsically dangerous. They carry some risk, as does all playground equipment. If you look at playgrounds, they have moved away from that sort of mechanism."

Council manager of bylaws and compliance, Max Wilde, said the swings on Calgary St had to be removed because of the damage they were doing to the trees, which is a breach of the bylaw.

"We also considered the potential health and safety issues they presented in a public place, especially being so close to the roadway."

The council had received a complaint about the swing outside Gendall's house, but it had not removed the swing.

Wilde refused to name the complainant.

"The complainant was concerned that the tree branch was not strong enough to suitably support the swings."

"Auckland Council does investigate the complaints that we receive about swings in council-owned trees, however, it does not run a pro-active inspection programme."

Separately, the council is replacing old swings at 69 playgrounds after one collapsed at Waiheke Island last June.