Parade put kids 'at risk'

PUBLISHED: 11:35 01 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:39 09 July 2010

The scouts march through Hornchurch

The scouts march through Hornchurch

CONCERNED parents have demanded answers from Havering Police after the diabolical handling of a St George s Day parade put children s lives at risk, they claim. On Sunday around 700 Scouts marched in honour of England s patron saint along Wingletye Lane

CONCERNED parents have demanded answers from Havering Police after the "diabolical" handling of a St George's Day parade put children's lives at risk, they claim.

On Sunday around 700 Scouts marched in honour of England's patron saint along Wingletye Lane, Hornchurch, from Havering Sixth Form College to Emerson Park School.

it is one of the most important days in the scouting calendar, and Havering Police normally close the road to traffic for the duration of the parade for the safety of its participants, who range from six-year-old Beavers to adult leaders.

But despite being informed of the event months in advance, both parents and the Scouts have accused the police of failing to do so - and being woefully undermanned and disorganised.

The claims have been denied by police.

A spokesman told the Recorder this week: "There was an officer on each junction and two officers based at the junction of Wingletye and Parkstone Avenue, as well as a police car at the front of the march.

"We received no official complaints on the day and have received no complaints since the march."

But one flabbergasted parent, Debbie Green, whose 10-year-old daughter Victoria marched with Eighth Hornchurch Dragon Pack, said the event was "handled diabolically".

Mrs Green, from Roseacre Close, Hornchurch, said: "The police usually shut the whole road off but to my amazement this year they didn't. You had children as young as six marching over the railway bridge with cars going over at the same time.

"It was an accident waiting to happen - what if one of the children saw mum or dad and darted across the road?"

Mrs Green said she had written a letter stating her concerns to Havering Police.

She added: "It was handled diabolically. Shutting the road off for 30 minutes once a year for St. George's Day isn't a lot to ask."

Scout Hornchurch District Commissioner, Scott Wilderspin, confirmed his organisation had received several complaints from worried parents threatening to pull their children out of future parades over safety concerns.

He said: "I was at the Emerson Park School end of the march but my parade marshall said it was appalling and the police had no control. He asked the police to stop the traffic but they said it was too late.

"Every year we write to the police in January. The procedure that they have followed in the past is that they hold the traffic up at the junctions joining Wingletye Lane and have cadets walking along the parade as well.

"This year there were not anywhere near enough officers or cadets to control the traffic and the police didn't appear to have any radios or other way of communicating."

Mr Wilderspin said that he had also contacted Havering Police demanding an explanation for what he sees as Sunday's mistakes and is seeking reassurances that they would not be repeated in future years.

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