Vandals put future of park in jeopardy

PUBLISHED: 16:35 19 July 2007 | UPDATED: 21:45 29 May 2010

Parish council chairman Desmond Brandham and Cllr Alex Mitchell survey the damage – Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Parish council chairman Desmond Brandham and Cllr Alex Mitchell survey the damage – Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

VANDALISM at a children s play area in Hatfield Broad Oak could lead to its closure. Over the years, thousands of pounds worth of damage has been caused to the recreation ground facilities. Fortunately the latest spate over the last three weeks has result

VANDALISM at a children's play area in Hatfield Broad Oak could lead to its closure.

Over the years, thousands of pounds worth of damage has been caused to the recreation ground facilities. Fortunately the latest spate over the last three weeks has resulted in minimal damage, but what has been caused is dangerous.

John Pryor, town clerk of Hatfield Broad Oak Parish Council said: "Due to the actions of a few mindless vandals, we are in danger of having to close down our recreation ground for safety reasons."

"Nothing is out of operation at the moment but the steps to the slide were left with a spike sticking out, which someone could have impaled themselves upon. The cost of the damage is nominal but it's the danger that's a problem."

He said the vandals had left broken bottles on the slide and smashed glass in the grass. The steps to the slide had been broken and excrement had been left on the other play equipment.

Railings along the footpath from Medlars Mead, where it crosses the stream, have also been broken making the crossing unsafe.

Cllr Alex Mitchell, vice-chairman HBOPC, said: "Some residents whose houses back onto the recreation ground have had some intolerable things happen to them.

"Stones have been thrown into back gardens, blown up condoms have been put into front gardens and one resident had her front door blocked by a deliberately broken tree branch.

"This sort of behaviour is absolutely disgusting."

The parish council has organised a meeting with an Uttlesford District Council officer to discuss issuing Anti-social Behaviour Orders to curb the bad behaviour.

Councillors are looking at various ways of gathering photographic evidence to support the ASBOs and the police are also carrying out an investigation.

Mr Pryor said that the police have been called but the response has been poor at times, with the police sometimes failing to turn up at all when they have been contacted.

"On at least one occasion two calls were made but no one came out. The parish council will be writing to the police to voice our concerns and ask why no officers came out to try and deal with the situation."

PC Brad Healey, neighbourhood policing officer for the Hatfield Heath area that covers Hatfield Broad Oak, said police were taking the vandalism very seriously and that the perpetrators would face severe consequences.

He said: "I live in Broad Oak - my kids use that play equipment. Sadly it would appear that vandalism to play areas is on the increase, following the congregation of groups of youths in the evenings.

"The situation is being closely monitored by local police and anyone found to be causing damage or putting graffiti on play equipment will be dealt with very seriously indeed.

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