The Residents Invitation
On Friday 6th July I received a letter inviting us to the Grand Opening of Vansittart Park (Friday 13th - How appropriate), by the council (SEAN KEARNS) This is an absolute insult!
I recommend that we make our voices heard on this day.
This is the Borough's letter in full
Re: Vansittart Road Recreation Ground
I am writing to invite you to join us for the official opening of the Vansittart Road Recreation Ground on Friday, July 13th. A leaflet giving full details is enclosed.
I would also like to take this opportunity to keep you up to date with what we are doing to ensure the smooth and enjoyable running of the new skate park, which has proved very popular with young people since it opened at the end of May.
The Royal Borough is continuing to work closely with the Police to ensure the safety and security of both users of the Park and local residents.
We are also encouraging young people to observe hours of use and to this end we are implementing measures to help reduce the use of the skate park after dark by installing chains across the main ramps at dusk and locking the bollards across the car park.
As far as supervision at the Park is concerned, we are delighted to confirm that we will be operating supervised daily sessions during the school holidays and hope to have this supervision in place by the 16th July. In addition we are monitoring the possibility of installing a CCTV camera if it is felt to be necessary in the future. We are also planning to install permanent signs at the skate park, and are considering boxing-in the skate ramps to prevent litter collecting underneath.
Local beat bobby, P.C. Ray Dawes makes regular patrols of the area and would be happy to discuss any concerns you may have on a day to day basis. The Council's contractors inspect the skate park every morning but If you wish to report any maintenance issues please contact Mike Jones on 01628 796468 during office hours.
Thank you for your continued support for all the elements of this exciting new venture, including the new park, childrens' play area and skate park, which we hope will be valued facilities for all local residents.
We look forward to seeing you at the opening on Friday, July 13th.
signed by Alison Bradby
P.P. Seans Kearns
It must be said that there is one aspect of this letter that local residents will appreciate and that is that some sort of attempt has been made to involve the local community in the opening of the revamped Vansittart Road Recreation Ground, and that activities for children have been included.
But it is the false promises and actual untruths that are most annoying and show a total lack of understanding of local residents' feelings on the matter. In short, the invitation is a public relations disaster!
Whilst most residents applaud the efforts that have been made to provide facilities for the younger generation, major problems have arisen in the implementation of the project and will be ongoing unless a determined effort is made by the authorities to solve them.
In Sean Kearns letter there are a number of inaccuracies and questionable statements.
Mr Kearns states "that the Royal Borough is continuing to work closely with the Police to ensure the safety and security of both users of the Park and local residents".
If that is the case, why are we constantly being told that the Police are not able to assist residents when calls are made concerning problems. Callers to the police have been advised to contact the council. Calls to the council can only be about damage to equipment. Not as the damage is being caused, however, that is a police matter. The council manned telephone numbers displayed at Vansittart Rec (subject to being ripped off as the signs often are) are merely for the reporting of damage so that the damage can be made safe.
The Borough appear to be relying on the police to 'ensure the safety and security of both users of the Park and local residents'. We are all aware of the shortage of police, especially on those occasions when trouble is most likely, i.e. as the pubs close.
Residents are not, therefore, reassured as it seems very unlikely, with the chronic shortage of police, that they will be in a position to do very much on the regular occasions that they have, and will, be asked to assist by the public.
Mr Kearns states "We also encouraging young people to observe hours of use and to this end we are implementing measures to help reduce the use of the skate park after dark by installing chains across the main ramps at dusk and locking the bollards across the car park."
This will fail as a policy. Chains on metal ramps, as we have stated all along, will exacerbate the problem as the increased noise of heavy metal chains on steel ramps will be intolerable. At an installation in Rickmansworth chains were discounted for precisely this reason. Does the council honestly believe that securing chains across the ramps will 'encourage' the children to go home? Ladbrokes should be contacted as a good bet is that at two o'clock in the morning the clanging and banging of chains by youths will become a regular feature of the area, to the delight of all nearby.
If the council would like to lock the bollard at the entrance to the Car Park, they will find it lying 100 yards away in the hedge on the approach road to the Surgery. It had originally been carried there by teenagers 'having fun' late at night at the end of June. It has been there ever since.
We also need to know what effect closing off the car park is intended to have. "Gosh," they will say, "The car park is closed, I'd better go home!" Or will they park in the lane?
What other 'encouragement' is planned, apart from putting a bollard in the entrance to the car park and providing industrial strength wind chimes?
Mr Kearns states "...we will be operating supervised daily sessions during the school holidays and hope to have this supervision in place by 16th July."
This goes a small way towards addressing a problem that local residents have encountered but actually fails to address the prime problem. There is a need to supervise the area but there is much more that we need to know first.
It is this last aspect that causes the most concern to residents. With so much vandalism, anti-social behaviour and graffiti in the immediate vicinity, what steps are being taken to address these problems?
Mr Kearns states "We also monitoring the possibility of installing CCTV if it is felt to be necessary in the future."
CCTV is not unfortunately the valuable weapon that many hope it will be because of limitations that we do not wish to publicise here. But local residents want it as it can be a useful deterrent and can help in alerting the authorities if youths are causing trouble or damage late at night.
Mr Kearns states "Local beat bobby, P.C. Ray Dawes, makes regular patrols of the area and would be happy to discuss any concerns you may have on a day to day basis."
We are pleased to hear that PC Dawes makes regular patrols but it is unfortunate that the council have placed this added burden on an already overstretched police force. I suspect that the pressure on PC Dawes' time with a wealth of other areas to look after will mean that Vansittart Recreation Ground can only be one of many commitments.
Mr Kearns states "The council's contractors inspect the skate park every morning..."
If this is the case, why were four trees left uprooted for an entire week? What constitutes an inspection? What reports exist of past inspections?
Mr Kearns states "Thank you for your continued support..."
Well OK... the children's playground will be nice when they stop throwing stones over it, and the grass has been rolled and becomes established and young mothers do not have to ask teenagers to move off the equipment and the language improves, etc. etc. etc!
And by the way, why couldn't Mr Kearns sign his own letter?
The accompanying leaflet referred to in Mr Kearns letter needs little comment except to say that it invites local residents to 'Join in the Fun' at 4.30pm which will include a balloon maker, magician, face painter and fun and games including a massive bouncy council. The Royal Borough's Deputy Mayor will conduct the official opening of the site at 5.30pm
The leaflet also includes a competition to win a prize of a free family dinner at the Older King and Castle Restaurant. The competition question is: "Who will conduct the official opening of Vansittart Road Recreation Ground?"
There are many inaccuracies in Mr Kearns letter as well as promises most of which will be hard to keep and even harder to make effective.
From a public relations point of view the letter is a failure and merely serves to annoy local residents further. It seems that he has not taken on board the fact that the skate park is the cause of substantially more anti-social behaviour in this residential area as well as regular damage to property.
It seems that local residents are required to put up with the causes of their complaints for some time into the future so it is unlikely that there will be much celebration on Friday 13th!
The celebration will come on the day when the skate park is moved to an appropriate area where it can be properly run.
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