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David Tett

Everyone's talking about... Go Ape making locals go ape

Isabelle Aron

We unpick the issues that have got Londoners all riled up. This week, it's the new Go Ape assault course in Battersea.

So, what's the story?

Aerial assault course chain Go Ape opened its twenty-ninth branch in Battersea Park last week, complete with giant rope nets, tunnels and treetop crossings. Perfect for good, clean fun, you might think. How could zip wires and rope ladders be a source of controversy? But no, locals are not impressed. In fact, they're so irate that campaign groups Wandsworth Anti-Austerity Campaign (WAC) and Playgrounds Uncut staged a protest on the day of Go Ape's opening, on the grounds that it's not good for the children.

Wait, what? Isn't it for children?

In theory, yes. But the campaign groups say they're unhappy because in 2013 Wandsworth Council demolished a free adventure playground in the same park, despite a survey showing opposition from 86 percent of locals. WAC spokesman Colin Crilly says both groups object to the 'pay-to-play' concept, adding that they 'believe it should be a right for all children to have free access to play'.

So will there be any free play areas left in the park

Those who don't have a burning desire to strap themselves into a harness and hang out at dizzying heights can keep their feet firmly on the ground in other areas of the park that will be staying put, including the free children's playground.

And what do the folks at Go Ape have to say about it?

A Go Ape spokesman says: 'There seems to be a general perception that Go Ape is replacing the free children's playground - which simply isn't true.' He adds it was the assault course's 'height rather than square footage that creates real adventure'. At least they're right about one thing: there is nothing adventurous about square footage.

Find out why everyone's talking about pedestrianising Oxford Street.

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