Rise of antisocial behaviour and arson at children’s park

PUBLISHED: 06:58 09 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:22 12 November 2018

Damage to equipment at Castle Batch Park. Picture: Malcolm Nicholson

Damage to equipment at Castle Batch Park. Picture: Malcolm Nicholson

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A North Worle park has been hit with a spate of antisocial behaviour incidents, criminal damage and arson.

Castle Batch park, in Bishop Avenue, has had its roundabout set on fire by vandals, its swing set removed due to damage and a bin stolen.

Replacement of the swing and the safety surfacing will cost more than £5,000.

Four incidents of criminal damage have been reported to Avon and Somerset police, but in a letter to residents they acknowledged ‘this is a much more common problem’.

Police also confirmed the park’s CCTV system, which has been inoperative for several months, will be fixed imminently.

Cllr Denise Hunt started a petition to improve facilities at Castle Batch, Picture: Denise HuntCllr Denise Hunt started a petition to improve facilities at Castle Batch, Picture: Denise Hunt

The park is owned and managed by North Somerset Council, which is also responsible for CCTV management, while Weston Town Council provides equipment for its play area.

A town council spokesman said: “We are saddened Castle Batch is being damaged by mindless vandals but will do our best to maintain all our play areas in as good a condition as possible.

“Our grounds team have inspected the roundabout and it has not been destroyed, contrary to some reports on social media.

“We have cleaned it up and plan to replace the bin as soon as we are able.

“We are developing a planned maintenance programme for all of our 21 play areas which will be published and agreed by councillors at our policy committee meeting on December 16.”

Worle councillor Denise Hunt has been campaigning to get improved facilities at the park following complaints from children and families.

A petition was started to get the swings and climbing frame replaced, which has 697 signatures.

Cllr Hunt said: “Castle Batch is an amazing public green space and having a fun and vibrant play area where children and families can enjoy time together is really important.

“People have told me they want the play equipment which was removed replaced, they’re not happy it has not been replaced and feel the play area has been badly neglected by Weston Town Council.

“Nearly 700 residents have signed my petition which shows the strength of local feeling. Children and play matter.”

The neighbourhood police team will host a beat surgery on November 17 from 3.30-4.30pm where a mobile station will be based in the community centre car park, also in Bishop Avenue, allowing people to raise their concerns to officers.

North Worle councillor Marc Alpin added: “The police’s help is a great start but to fix this problem all stakeholders in the community must work together.

“From the council’s perspective, we need to rejuvenate Castle Batch and bring back the lighting.

“I’m also very interested in exploring whether we as a community could be organising more activities for young people and involving them in our rejuvenation projects.

“I encourage people to report all crime they witness at the park and continue doing this so we keep the issue on the police’s radar until it’s dealt with.”

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