Vandals damage bench in St Albans: “It is important for the community”

The vandalised bench in Batchwood. Picture: Miles Soppet

The vandalised bench in Batchwood. Picture: Miles Soppet - Credit: Archant

Vandals sparked disappointment and anger after torching a community picnic area.

Friends of Batchwood believe someone lit a fire on top of a picnic bench in woodland near the sports centre, burning through 8cm of timber on the tabletop.

There are two benches in the area - one is five years old and the other was only erected last year - both of them had been partially funded by Herts county councillor Roma Mills’ Locality Budget.

Volunteer coordinator for Friends of Batchwood, Miles Soppet, said: “I am very fed up and very disappointed because we have done a lot of work up there to create the picnic area.

“It is important for the community, so people can go up and enjoy it as a community asset. There are several groups of people who use the picnic area in the summer.”

He said there have been other minor incidents of vandalism over the years, but this occasion has been the most substantial and damaging.

Miles added: “We are debating whether to make a new top for the picnic table, and we probably will order some timber, but we are struggling with when to do it because if we did it immediately and the idiots came back and immediately burnt it then I would be very disappointed.”

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They are currently investigating how much replacement planks would cost.

Cllr Mills said: “I am very disappointed. I know the friends will do their best to slot in new planks of wood, but it is very disappointing.

“It is an area for all the people of Batchwood to use, sit down in the summer, have a cup of tea, and enjoy, and I don’t understand why anyone would do this.

“It is money from the public purse and community fundraising to make an area better, and people who don’t have anything better to do have come and set fire to it.

“But we will not be defeated by this, and we will have our cups of tea.”

Cllr Mills is currently the Friends of Batchwood chairwoman.

Friends of Batchwood have not reported this vandalism to Herts police.