Wheathampstead children's playground targeted by vandals

PUBLISHED: 17:09 20 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 06 May 2010

Parish councillors Peter Kennedy (left) and John Foster in the ruins of the tennis club

Parish councillors Peter Kennedy (left) and John Foster in the ruins of the tennis club

VANDALS with bolt cutters attacked a children s playground on Monday night leading to fears that the deliberate damage might be linked to teenagers hanging around there at night. Sandridge parish council did not discover the vandalism at the Sherwood Aven

The playground with the vandalised swings in the background

VANDALS with bolt cutters attacked a children's playground on Monday night leading to fears that the deliberate damage might be linked to teenagers hanging around there at night.

Sandridge parish council did not discover the vandalism at the Sherwood Avenue recreation ground in Marshalswick until the following morning when four large swings and a basket swing were found lying on the ground.

As if that wasn't bad enough, it transpired that the adjoining tennis clubhouse, which has been standing empty, had been broken into twice and a toilet damaged, all the remaining glass smashed, rubbish scattered around and taps turned on and left running.

In a separate incident, a brand-new picnic bench in a recreation area off nearby Damson Way, which had been concreted in, was ripped out of the ground and a section of tarmac footpath torn up.

Councillor Peter Kennedy said vandalism was a major problem within Sandridge parish with 20 per cent of its precept spent rectifying the damage caused by such incidents.

He went on: "This year we hadn't had too much of a problem but now we have had a spate of it."

He fears that because the bolt-cutters used at the recreation ground would have been heavy to wield and the chains thick, the damage could have been caused by a local resident or residents fed up with teenagers hanging around the swings. "I just do not know what you do about this kind of thing," he said. "I am so frustrated by it."

Cllr Kennedy pointed out that Sherwood Avenue was a busy playground and was well used by mothers and children throughout the day, especially during the school holidays.

Although the council has managed to put the swings back up, the basket has been taken away for the time being.

The boarded-up tennis clubhouse was given to the parish council but it has stood empty since and Cllr Kennedy has been campaigning to get rid of it because it has been vandalised in the past.

He also believes that the damage in Damson Way could not have been carried out by youngsters because the picnic table weighed around 120kgs.

Pc Carol Crawley, ward constable for the Marshalswick area, said: "We are aware of the recent vandalism at Sherwood recreation ground and are currently following a number of lines of inquiry into the matter. We take vandalism extremely seriously and anyone caught vandalising the local area will be dealt with robustly."

She urged anyone who had seen the vandalism take place or had any information to contact her on the non-emergency number 0845 33 00 222 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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