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Parents angry over 'child-free' beer garden

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Parents angry over 'child-free' beer garden
The "no children - no dogs" sign at the centre of the controversy. Photo: DPA
11:02 CEST+02:00
A decision to ban children from a riverside beer garden in Düsseldorf has sparked a heated debate between drinkers happy to be left in peace and parents angry at being excluded.

"No children – no dogs" reads the sign at the entrance of the Sonnendeck beer garden on the banks of the Rhine in Düsseldorf.

But some parents are angry at being shut out of the idyllic spot.

They will no longer be able to enjoy the deckchairs, white sand, and beautiful views of the Rhine, as after eight years the owner of the beer garden has finally lost his patience with troublesome kids.

"I don't like the sign either, I have three children myself, but it couldn't have gone on like this," said owner Patrick Weiss.

But he said that a certain type of parents were to blame for the ban. "Some of them just look on as their children throw sand at other guests.

"When children fill up ash trays and glasses with sand and smear mud all over the benches, and the mothers say it doesn't concern them, then I have to take the necessary steps," he said.

The decision has caused outrage among some local parents, including one mother who wrote on the Facebook page of the beer garden that "it is just disappointing and sad that children are being put on the same level as dogs and that as a family we are being excluded. It is unbelievable."  

It is only the sandy "quiet zone" that will be free from children running amok, so families will still be allowed to spend time with their little ones in the rest of the beer garden.

Weiss has also built a new play area for the little tykes to enjoy, but even that has left some parents unsatisfied. "Our son will not play in an enclosed playground," wrote one.

"We will never come back"

Owner Weiss presented other reasons for the change, saying that the fact that families often bring food and drink from home means that he is missing out on a lot of business.

He also pointed out that safety is an important element.

"In the past kids have gone into the kitchen and once one of them set fire to a palm tree. When these things happen, I am the one to blame," he said.

As well as parents complaining, there were also lots of people on the Facebook page expressing their support for the decision.

One punter wrote: "Great idea to ban kids and dogs! There are also people who just want their peace and quiet!!!!"

Another wrote: "A huge thank you for sparing me from the lazy mothers, who just lie in the sun while their spoiled brats irritate others. I'll gladly come back again and again."

Some parents joined in to defend Weiss, with one writing that "I'm a mother of two kids myself, but I think this is good, there are people who don't want kids around for whatever reason and I sometimes like some peace and quiet without them."

This case is reminiscent of the attempt a few years ago by cafe and shop owners in Prenzlauer Berg, an affluent area of Berlin, to introduce buggy-free zones.

They also started calling these buggy pushing mothers "Latte-Macchiato-Mums".

The ban in Düsseldorf seems to be legal, as a hotel owner recently got the green light to stop accepting children.

Sonnendeck owner Weiss appears determined to stick to his guns. He argues that adults have just as much a right to their own area as children.

"I don't sit around in children's play areas with a crate of beers and a carton of cigarettes," he said.

He also doesn't seem too bothered about upsetting the parents.

"Of course there were complaints, and people said "We will never come back" etc," he said.

"But we're staying polite: You're very welcome never to come back."

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