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Vansittart Rec Update
An Open Letter to local councillors

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6th June 2001

Dear Councillor

You may be aware that local residents in the area around the Vansittart Recreation Ground Skate Park are increasingly concerned at the significant vandalism and generally unacceptable behaviour that this facility has generated.

Complaints include noise late into the night, uprooted trees, widespread graffiti, threatening behaviour, drinking of alcohol, smoking of drugs, the 'racing' of cars along the access road, damage to property along the routes to and from the facility, broken glass and a general degeneration of areas that were previously quiet residential roads.

In addition, there has been a total lack of attention to the Millennium Mural, as created by The Oakbridge Centre almost two years ago. You will have seen the reports in the newspapers of racist graffiti, at this and other locations, and the publicly expressed concern from the police that the RBWM are far too slow in attending to incidences of graffiti. To that I would add that belated attempts at a clean up literally 'scratch the surface' and have no significant effect on the scrawls. The racist graffiti has been 'covered up' with bright yellow paint, which in itself draws attention to its existence and to the unpleasant obscenities still visible beneath. The mural extends for the full length along one side of the underpass and had survived unharmed for over a year. The opposite side, in brightly coloured panels, did not last quite so long, but is now a total eyesore. We have photographic evidence of the various occurrences of graffiti damage dating back to last year and which remains to this day for all to see. All who use the underpass are saddened by this situation as the mural was much admired. It is now merely testament to the Borough's lack of concern over such matters and has resulted in regular unsightly additions on almost a daily basis.

You will not be surprised to learn that the residents in the area are furious at the whole concept of a Skate Park in this area, the attendant vandalism and the apparent lack of action on the Borough's part. Whilst they welcome the children's area, plus the attention given to the recreation ground in general, there is considerable concern over how the area will look in the coming months. It is to be hoped that the area will be given proper supervision, regular maintenance and that a determined effort will be made to identify those responsible and eradicate this vandalism and loutish behaviour.

I am advised by the Home Office that the government has stated that the most effective way to tackle the problem of vandalism is through co-ordinated preventative action at the local level, involving all the relevant agencies such as local authorities, schools and voluntary bodies, as well as the police. The problem has to be identified locally, a means of tackling it discussed with all the parties concerned and a plan of action drawn up with local needs in mind. The police and local authorities have a statutory duty under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to develop crime reduction partnerships designed to develop strategies for tackling any crime problem, such as graffiti and vandalism, which they identify. The Crime and Disorder Act has also introduced a comprehensive range of measures to reform the youth justice system. These include a Final Warning, which will trigger intervention by local agencies to nip offending in the bud, the halving of the time taken to process young offenders from arrest to sentence, and the Child Protection Order, which will ensure that young children are kept off the streets and out of trouble, late at night, where this is necessary. In addition, the courts have been given a range of new community sentences which will be aimed at making young offenders face up to the consequences of their actions, changing attitudes and behaviour and at curtailing offending behaviour at an early stage. For example, The Reparation Order will require the young person to make specific reparation to the victim or the community which he has harmed. Measures such as these will confront young offenders with their behaviour and produce some worthwhile community benefit in the form of reparation and reduced offending.

In the absence of such attention, all local residents are agreed on a major campaign to have the Skate Park removed. I trust that we can rely on your support in achieving an acceptable solution.

With my thanks for considering the above. A copy of a current leaflet describing the residents' concerns is enclosed.

Editor. The Royal Windsor Web Site

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