Residents formed a 150-strong ‘human fence’ in Victoria Park on Saturday to protest against the lack of a real one around newly built playgrounds.
Tower Hamlets Labour leader Joshua Peck rallied councillors, residents and parents in pushing for an ongoing £12m refurbishment to give its play spaces fences.
Bethnal Green MP Rushanara Ali also supported the protest.
Peck, who organised the action, told EastLondonLines: “The council needs to listen to the hundreds of parents who are telling it to finish the job and put the fence back around the playgrounds.”
The council said it had followed national guidelines which say children benefit when their play areas are integrated into a wider environment, and maintained that it had consulted local kids.
But concerned residents flocked to an online petition launched by Victoria Park Friends Group chair Richard Desmond after parents approached him about the issue.
The petition calls on the council to “protect the health and welfare of small children from avoidable harm” by fencing the playground.
It reads: “The children’s playgrounds have had fences removed and there are no current plans for their reinstatement. This now results in children under 5 being able to leave the playground easily and dogs defecating in the playgrounds.”
Hackney councillor Katie Hanson said: “The new play equipment is wonderful, but with a main road on one side, a lake on the other and many dog owners using the park, a fence is necessary to keep the children safe.”
The scheme, due to finish in April, is funded by the Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery Fund. New facilities include community centre and café, a rebuilt Chinese pagoda, and two new playgrounds.
The council said it was pleased with the positive reception from a “vast majority” of users and that it would monitor the situation and “make any changes necessary”.
It added: “We are also ensuring that other park users, such as dog owners, act responsibly.”
The petition closes on March 8 and will go before the council cabinet on March 14. View or sign it here.