Council killjoys strip down boy’s woodland den ‘as it’s not inclusive enough’

A three-year-old's woodland den in Surrey has been torn down by council killjoys because it's name excluded other children.

Charlie Smith's grandfather built "Charlie's Den" from sticks and branches in June 2020, for the toddler and his 1-year-old sister Molly.

The tots and their friends would visit the mini hideout on the side of Whitmoor Common during their daily walks.

But the family from Guildford, Surrey, were soon contacted by Surrey County Council with a series of complaints including removing decorations from the den because they weren't biodegradable.

When the family didn't comply, council workers cleared out the den – and then left a note outside saying even painted wooden decorations had to go to, they claim.

It was followed by an email from council officers demanding they must remove the wooden plank sign above the entrance which said "Charlie's Den" because it's "not inclusive enough."

Land protection officers said it "suggests a degree of ownership which may deter others from playing".

Charlie's family blasted the "petty" council who have apparently now taken the sign and children's decorations away.

Charlie's aunt Stephanie Smith, 24, said: "It's awful for him, every time he goes up there you don't know what to expect.

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"He's done all these painted logs and they've been taken down, and he can't have them because they're just not telling us.

"He's more confused about why, you can't really explain to him he's only three, so he's just confused as to why they've been taken down.

"If he's up there and he sees other kids he says come in here, come see my den.

"It's about a five-minute walk from our house, he goes up there every day with my mum to see it.

"It's more of a place for children to go when they go on a walk, more of an entertainment thing for them."

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A spokesman for Surrey County Council said: "We really did not want to discourage young people from enjoying the great outdoors in this way.

"The den is great, and a perfect way to escape in imagination!

"But we must give a warning if we need to remove any materials that are not natural to the surroundings, we would never dismantle the actual structure unless it posed a danger.

"Judging the structural integrity and wonderful craftsmanship of this example, we certainly won't be taking it down."

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