Vandalism lands parish council with bill for thousands of pounds

PUBLISHED: 10:20 07 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:28 06 May 2010

Fire damage to the swings

Fire damage to the swings

A SPATE of vandalism has landed a Sandridge Parish Council with repair bills running into thousands of pounds. At the end of July the bark was ripped from a tree dedicated to the memory of Princess Diana in the Woodland Park in Jersey Farm, St Albans, an

A SPATE of vandalism has landed a Sandridge Parish Council with repair bills running into thousands of pounds.

At the end of July the bark was ripped from a tree dedicated to the memory of Princess Diana in the Woodland Park in Jersey Farm, St Albans, and it is likely to die as a result.

Then last week similar damage was also done to two other trees in the same park which is located in St Helier Road.

And last Thursday vandals set fire to a children's basket swing in the nearby Sherwood Avenue recreation ground, destroying the equipment.

It was the latest in a long string of vandalism in local parks - Sandridge Parish Council has had to replace a trampoline and a slide already this year.

The perimeter fencing around the tennis court in Sherwood Park was also flattened one night in June which will cost around £3,000 to replace.

Sandridge Parish Councillor John Foster is concerned about what he perceives as a large increase in anti-social and malicious damage.

He said: "The likely cost of a replacement swing is about £3,000. It is so well used by the toddlers it is quite a tragedy for us. The park is sometimes subject to teenagers entering very late at night and residents have often heard laughing and larking about at 1am in the morning. But this latest trend of burning things down is very worrying for us."

Cllr Foster also said the cost of replacing the three damaged trees would cost between £2,000 and £2,500.

He urged people to contact the police or the parish council with any information about the incidents or any similar problems they witnessed or experienced in the area.

He said: "It goes beyond anti-social behaviour - this is criminal damage and we would like to see them caught. And also, if they are brought to court we would like to see them reimburse the council for the cost of damage they have caused."

He added: "The police can't do it all without the eyes and ears of the public."

Sergeant Jamie Bartlett of the Safer Neighbourhood Team said the police were stepping up both uniformed and non-uniformed patrols in the area in light of the recent vandalism.

He said the vandalism of the Princess Diana tree had a real impact on the local community as it meant a lot to local residents.

He urged anyone who witnessed any problems or had information about recent vandalism to contact the police, who he pledged would deal with offenders robustly.

The team can be contacted on 01727 796042 and the parish council can be reached on 01727 831871.

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