Harpenden astro turf pitch used as dumping ground for rubbish

Rubbish dumped at Rothampsted Park's astro turf pitch.

Rubbish dumped at Rothampsted Park's astro turf pitch. - Credit: Archant

A Harpenden sports facility is being blighted by piles of rubbish left behind by visitors.

The 3G astro turf pitch at Rothampsted Park is an all-weather, floodlit pitch at Harpenden Sports Centre which is available for public use from 6.30am until 10.30pm.

But it has become a popular meeting place for groups of youngsters in the evening, who frequently leave behind rubbish including glass bottles and broken shards.

The pitch is managed by 1Life and equipped with floodlighting on tall poles behind each goal, but there is no CCTV in place to deter offenders.

Harpenden resident Phil Thompson is calling for action to tackle the littering problem.

He said: “You could be forgiven for thinking that Rothhampsted Park’s astro turf pitch has become a landfill site but no, this is the result of Harpenden children going out in the evenings.

“Beer and pop cans, bottles, food packaging, barbecue waste, abandoned clothing and discarded gas cartridges.

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“When you enter the pitch there are shards of glass from broken bottles, damage caused by portable barbecues and filth, just the sort of environment fit for outdoor training sessions and where some participants bring young children!

“We understand the frustrations teenagers must have felt during lockdown but this is not a recent phenomenon, it has been going on for years. Users regularly clean up the mess and make it safe for exercise; glass in the hand is not unknown. St Albans district council has recently put up signs to deter littering but still it continues.

“So if you have teenage children who “go to the park” in the evenings you may wish to inquire of their activities. Equally, 1Life may wish to consider installation of CCTV on the floodlights in order to both deter and assist apprehension of offenders.”

Cllr Anthony Rowlands, portfolio holder for leisure, heritage and public realm, said: “Our contractor 1Life has responsibility for the astroturf area.

“We have brought the problems to their attention and have been talking to them about what actions they can take to deter people from gathering there late at night and causing a nuisance.

“The area is fenced and the gates locked at night, so we will be asking 1Life to see what other measures need to be taken to stop people gaining access.

“1Life will also be talking to the Police to see if they can arrange regular night patrols.

“They are also undertaking two major litter sweeps every week to clear up discarded rubbish.

“Visits to our parks have increased during the Covid-19 lockdown and we’re determined to keep them in top condition for all our residents.”