Working hard on plan to promote 'decency'

PUBLISHED: 10:53 27 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:11 24 May 2010

A COMMON complaint across North Somerset, and across Britain for that matter, is gangs of teenagers gathering in parks or on street corners causing trouble. The standard response to the problem is often more bobbies on the beat, CCTV cameras or gates to

A COMMON complaint across North Somerset, and across Britain for that matter, is gangs of teenagers gathering in parks or on street corners causing trouble. The standard response to the problem is often more bobbies on the beat, CCTV cameras or gates to keep people out.But some forward thinking villagers have come up with an innovative way of turning an anti-social behaviour hotspot into an attractive and respected community garden.Using the motto 'decent parks promote decent behaviour', Yatton residents started up the Glebelands project. After £30,000 of fund-raising and 18 months of hard work, a grand opening ceremony was held on April 1.The ground in front of the village hall and St Mary's Church had, like several parks in the district, become overgrown and scruffy. As a result it was attracting vandalism and rubbish.People were put off crossing the ground and the village hall was losing bookings because of intimidating groups of teenagers.The hall's committee, along with the parish council, representatives from the parish church and the horticultural society decided it was time to find a long-lasting solution to the problem.With advice from the police, they decided not to take the route of installing security devices like CCTV, but to turn the park into an area the whole village would be proud of and look after. Councillor Faith Moulin said: "A national report suggests heavy-handed security measures are costly and don't necessarily work."It says crime levels fall when parks are re-designed or better maintained whereas vandalism increases when they are left to fall into disrepair."So we carried out loads of work starting with lowering walls and putting in extra lights to open the area up."The police can look in when they are passing and there are no dark corners for troublemakers."We got the youngsters involved and put in plenty of attractive floral and art features as well as information boards. Now it is actually an area where people want to spend time, rather than just a cut through."Young people are still meeting at Glebelands but we have had no vandalism and no trouble. They are using it to meet their friends, which is what it is for. We are really pleased."Work that has been carried out:* Damaged seats have been replaced with handmade ironwork seats and arches.* A wooden sculpture has been carved with a chainsaw.* Youngsters built a pebble mosaic.* Wells Cathedral has donated a stone and stained glass sculpture.* A wildlife garden and orchard has been created.* Information boards on the history of the Glebelands and the wildlife found there put up.* Old stone walls have been repaired and new ones built.* Reduced the height of the wall.* Renovated old school railings.* Improved car park steps.

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