Monday, 23 July 2018

Park to be made more secure to deter vandalism

THE entrance to a park in Sonning Common is to be redesigned to make it safer and more secure.

The parish council will spend about £6,000 on the work at the public facility in Baskerville Road.

It says the park has suffered persistent low-level vandalism and noise nuisance late at night.

To help tackle the problem it plans to replace the 1m high chain-link fence in Margaret Allwright Way, which runs alongside the park from Baskerville Road to Orchard Avenue, with a 1.8m high welded mesh fence, similar to the one around the village skate park at Bishopswood recreation ground.

In June a camping trailer parked outside the 1st Sonning Common scouts hut, which is fenced off in part of the park, was targeted by vandals who caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage and made the trailer unusable. 

Scout leader Graham Edwards welcomed the redesign work and said he hoped it could be finished before Christmas.

He has discussed with the parish council the idea of installing CCTV on the scout hut.

Mr Edwards said: “We’re in favour of the security measures the parish council wants to put in place.

“It won’t just help with the park but the whole area around it. The CCTV on the scout hut would cover the whole park.

“Some of the antisocial behaviour in that area has been absolutely disgusting. There have been people peeing down the slides.”

Mr Edwards said there had been problems with teenagers drinking in the park, which is intended for children aged 11 and under, and throwing glass bottles at the scout hut.

He said: “Often you see 13-or 14-year-olds there. You can’t say something because once you’re gone they are probably going to vandalise the scout hut. I’ve asked the police to monitor the area but nothing seems to work.”

Once the new fencing is installed, the gates to the park will be locked at 7.30pm.

“I understand it could be even earlier in the winter,” Mr Edwards said. “The only time access would be available at that time would be if someone was coming to cubs or scouts with a parent. 

He said there were also plans to put lights in Margaret Allwright Way, adding: “That would make the area better lit. I don’t think that was in the original budget for the work. 

“As the longer nights start to draw in and we get closer to bonfire night, I do worry about fireworks being set off in our compound or the scout hut being set on fire.”

The new fence would be one metre further back from the footpath to make it wider and less constricting. 

Councillor Mika Rinta-Suksi said he had visited the play area with his two sons and thought it needed better lighting to help with security.

He said: “It is easier to commit vandalism when you can’t be seen.

“There could be a couple of lights put into the play area.  It would also mean parents could take their children there when it’s dark. You’d get more usage of the playground.”

Parish clerk Philip Collings said: “There have been some considerable problems at Baskerville Road and we want to make it more secure. 

“The suggestion is to move the fence back as it is right on the hedge line. You move it back about 3ft and maybe plant the area with some new flowers.”

Mr Collings said the work would help to make sure the play area and the scout hut were more secure.

He said the current fencing could be stepped over to access the park, even if the entrance gate was locked.

The entrance gate could be moved further down the entrance drive, closer to the play area, and new signage put up.

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