Thamesweb LogoNews in Windsor

This article contains 17 photographs. Please allow a short time for them all to arrive.

Vansittart Rec Update

15th June 2001

The Skate Park from Goslar Way

The Skate Park from Goslar Way

In this update we summarise the reports that we have received
following an initial leaflet distribution to local residents

Complaints have included...

  • Endless noise at night
  • Children frightened off play equipment
  • Scout hut vandalised nearby
  • Abusive behaviour
  • Motorcycles and cycles ridden on the equipment
  • Significant increase in broken glass, beer cans and other litter in and around area (including a smashed up vacuum cleaner)
  • Smoking and drinking of alcohol
  • Increased graffiti in underpass and nearby foot paths
  • Trees uprooted and snapped off (two occasions at least)
  • Excrement inside Skate area
  • Grandmother too frightened to take children there or walk past
  • Suspicion of drug use
  • Racist abuse
  • Stone throwing at children
  • Damage to vehicles nearby
  • Fireworks thrown at other children
  • Residents woken late at night
  • Stones and rocks strewn around
  • 'Portaloo' overturned twice
  • Entrance gate wedged open
  • Fences broken down
  • Iron bar left on site
  • Fire on pathway to Park and under ramps

... and that is just the first two weeks!

It is worth recalling the relevant paragraph from the original plans, published by the Borough in August 2000.

In the top corner of the site, where the car park is at present, there will be a skate area facility. This will have challenging equipment for young people, a shelter, and will be fenced to 3m high. The facility will be locked after a certain time in the evenings. The link footpath to the Alma Road Youth and Community Centre will be improved and lit, and their existing sports area is to be enhanced.
 The demolitions will start on site from mid September. The construction of the new facilities will start in October and are programmed to be complete and open to the public by February 2001. Planting works will continue in two phases in both March and October 2001.

So that is what was originally announced, "...a skate area...", a description that one would have thought would be along the lines of Alexandra Gardens which does not, as far as we have heard, constitute an inconvenience or cause annoyance to the residents nearby. During a visit made today, 15th June 2001, we were astonished how clean and free from vandalism and graffiti, this particular area was. But it is supervised, and the Windsor Roller Rink are very much to be congratulated on keeping problems under strict control. We have had discussions with The Windsor Roller Rink and they have some very pertinent comments to make which we will report on at the appropriate moment.

What we have ended up with at Vansittart Rec Skate Park is nothing like the original plan. Gone is the planned high fence and needless to say, the skate park is left open all night. This installation cost in the region of £80,000 YET NOT ONE PENNY HAS BEEN SPENT TO PROTECT THAT INVESTMENT!

It is no surprise that local residents are now seething. Following a leaflet distribution to houses in the immediate vicinity, we have been inundated with complaints and desperate pleas for something to be done.

The short answer is that the Skate Park is in the wrong part of town. Expert advice that we have obtained indicates that facilities of this kind, whenever they are installed in the centre of residential areas, inevitably lead to an increase in vandalism in the immediate vicinity and along the routes to and from it. We have been advised that the facility is in entirely the wrong area, should be supervised, should be fully illuminated and securely locked after hours. The facility should also be fully signed as to the rules and regulations governing its use, and that steps are taken to ensure that the regulations are observed at all times.

Regrettably, even if the installation meets all the above criteria, similar facilities have led to increases in menacing, threatening and rowdy behaviour, fires, litter such a broken glass and beer cans, vandalism, graffiti and noise as well as alcohol and drugs related problems. The tragedy is is that the local authorities, for whatever reason, will do nothing, or can do nothing to alleviate the concern and mounting anger of the residents required to live with the situation and at the same time to find the money to make good vandalised gates, plants, windows, cars and other property, let alone the abusive behaviour and disturbance.

Following the leaflet distribution in the area inviting comment, the response suggests that this is precisely the situation that we residents are currently facing.

Part of the leaflet distributed to local homes in the area

Selected Resident's Comments

Here are some edited comments that we have received by email, by phone and by post.

We live near the Skate Park and have over the past month been constantly kept awake by the banging of boards and bikes against the metal ramps after 11pm. The noise seems to finish sometime after midnight. We need to do something about this ill conceived idea. If anything, have the park locked after 10pm.
I have noticed a number of youths ripping up the new trees and trying to wreck the children's equipment. This must stop, or all the efforts that have been so far invested in a communal area for all to enjoy, will be wasted. Cars have also been vandalised along Vansittart Road with wing mirrors being bent and other damage being caused.
I do understand the importance of there being facilities for younger members of our community, these facilities do however need to be considered more carefully.
I don't have the solution but whoever does get our full support.
Thank you for bothering to circulate the newsletter over the weekend.

The situation at Vansittart is a disgrace. The inclusion of a skate park has encouraged the yob culture at the expense of young children who cannot use the playground facilities without being confronted by vandalism, loutish behaviour and illegal drinking. Green Lane is being vandalised by louts going to and from the skate park
It is very obvious that the council tried to save a few pounds by skimping on finishing the job properly with security cameras and proper fencing. Why should local residents around Vansittart have to put up with this activity whilst a vast investment is made in eton college's facility at the lottery's expense? The athletics ground should have been left and sports facilities
A precedent has been established that this is a good place to congregate with impunity. It is now too late to remedy the situation and the skate park should be demolished. Security cameras need to be installed around the childrens play area and in the underpass to discourage the illegal activities.

As the mother of a teenager who sometimes uses the skate park I would like
to add a few comments.
I think the skate park could be a great addition to the facilities of teenagers in Windsor. However, I agree that not enough thought has gone into this.
I rang the council the day before it officially opened to say I was concerned that teenagers were down there in huge numbers and late at night. I expressed my concern that local residents would obviously be intimidated and upset and that thought should have gone into supervision etc. I was told that the numbers would soon die down and that it was a one week wonder which would settle down. I was informed that they were "looking into" a panic button in case the "children" got into difficulties. These people obviously don't understand teenagers. Such a panic button would simply be pressed all the time!
Personally I think there should be a park keeper in the evenings. The kids could pay, say, £1 each to enter the zone which could go towards wages. The less serious skaters would soon go somewhere else and the whole thing could be monitored more safely.
What do you think? Is there any way of getting this sort of thing off the ground?
I would much rather the situation was sorted out quickly and safely rather than it all having to be shut down.

I live no less than 300 yards from the new development and am therefore most aware of the changes taking place in the vicinity.
In simple terms - a total disaster area and this is only the beginning of a massive problem which will cost hundreds of thousands of Council Tax money to put right one day soon UNLESS proper control is effected immediately.
The problems are both environmental as well as social. Litter has quadrupled, to as far as where I live with young people showing no respect for others property and general street cleanliness.
The teenage community which has inundated the rec have no respect or regard for the young childrens play area. I was particularly vocal to a couple of them when they tried to ignore my polite request to move off the play equipment so that my 3 yr old son could play without any sense of threatening behaviour.
At night the rec is obviously a spot for underage drinking (come see the aftermath on a Saturday or Sunday morning after the night before).
I am personally very keen to see that young people have plenty of recreational facilities on which to amuse themselves but I am afraid that without any enforced control or discipline/' rules of the game' this facility will be abused and end up like the athletics ground became - a
'white elephant'.
Equally, I will personally not tolerate abusive behaviour either to property or other people and have every intention to manage this according to my own principles and actions whenever I visit the area.
I was all in favour of the plans some 2 years ago, but whoever is now responsible should come forward and explain their accountabilities for the safety and general well being of this expensive facility. THERE IS SOMEONE RESPONSIBLE, WHO IS IT? THEY MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE OR LEAVE THEIR POST TO SOMEONE WHO CAN GET RESULTS.
Please do let me know the next steps so that I can actively participate in finding a solution where everyone wins!

The new Vansittart Park development has been a major catastrophe by the council.
I moved into nearby Green Lane 18 months ago and regularly used the underpass to gain access to the town centre - not anymore!
After the plans for a park was approved, I looked forward to the summer days where I could take my young family for leisurely walks within the play area. Instead, we are now living in fear of attacks, injury and foul abusive language

My recent visit to the park with my six-year-old daughter ended with an attack on her by the yobs from the skate park - hurling stones and rubble left from the recent development.
My son who is thirteen refuses to use the park for fear of being attacked and being influenced by the drugs and alcohol usage
Many of my elderly neighbours used the route to get to the local surgery, but they are faced with broken glass and other debris.
The new plantation does not stand a chance and many new shrubs and trees have already been uprooted.
The nearby Cubs/Scout hall windows have been attacked and vandalised. Currently no activities can take place until repairs are carried out.
A fence panel has been broken down by the thugs and yobs using the Skate Park to gain a short cut into Green Lane. It is close to a electricity sub-station and it will not be long before a major fatality occurs.
During most weekends there is the constant noise of loutish behaviour on the Roller blades/skates/skate boards until the early hours of the morning. Our front gardens are being littered with beer cans/bottles and cigarettes.

What used to be a pleasant place for young and elderly people alike is now a NO-GO area. Where ever did they get approval for the Skate Park? What consideration was given? This is an ill-advised project and not in keeping with the area.


Some of the Problems Illustrated

Cubs Hut vandalised nearby

On the night of 13th/14th June a deliberate attack was made on the Cub Scouts Hut in Green Lane, approximately 50 yards from the Skate Park and directly across the dual carriageway, Goslar Way.

At around midnight a resident noticed a group of teenagers 'larking about' on the Vansittart Road Rec, a little way down from the Skate Park. He believes that this group was responsible for the subsequent vandalism to both the boundary fence and the reinforced glass doors and windows. The cost to the Cub Groups that use the building is in excess of £500 as the windows must be replaced before the cubs can safely use the building again.

Scout Hut Doors attacked - 14th June 2001

Scout Hut - doors damaged 14th June 2001

 Scout Hut - window damaged 14th June 2001

Scout Hut - window damaged 14th June 2001

Gates and Fences

Fences have been broken down adjacent to the Scout Hut in Green Lane and along Goslar Way where teenagers take a 'short cut' across the dual carriageway to the Skate Park. The damage to the Scout Hut fencing has been repaired a number of times by volunteer help, but this is the most serious and will cost the scout group a substantial. sum to rectify. This is in addition to the cost involved in repairing the windows illustrated above.

Fencing around Scout Hut land broken down

Fencing around Scout Hut land broken down

Broken fencing alongside Goslar Way, to the south of the Skate Park, across Goslar Way

Broken fencing alongside Goslar Way

The same area of damaged fencing from Green Lane side

The fence between the Skate Park and the Youth Centre has also been badly damaged.

Fencing adjacent to Youth Centre

Fencing adjacent to Youth Centre. The Skate Park is beyond

Entrance gate wedged open

Gate wedged open CU

Gates, spring loaded to ensure that dogs do not enter the Skate Park and foul the area, are wedged open for the 'convenience' of the users of the facility. This defeats the object and the declared aim to provide "access into the central area through self closing gates, but dogs will not be allowed in."

Excrement was found underneath one of the ramps in the Skate area on Friday morning, 15th June 2001, and was photographed! We are uncertain of its origin... The 'matter' was reported to RBWM Leisure Services and was removed by Friday lunchtime.

It is our view that the fencing as illustrated above will shortly be significantly damaged as it is not of high quality, is already splitting and is only secured with nails.

Motorcycles and cycles ridden on the equipment

On 6th June at 5pm, eight motorcycles were seen on the ramps as other youngsters used their skateboards at the same time. The matter was reported hurriedly to the police at the nearby Police Station. Result unknown.

As the Thamesweb reporter was taking the photographs in this article, several lads were seen using their bikes on the equipment - in the rain - contrary to the guidelines originally posted loosely on the fence, but now ripped off and lying on the tarmac.

Abusive Behaviour
Children frightened off play equipment

We have received a number of reports that school children walking home past the Skate Park have had to endure shouted abuse, as have mothers and grandmothers trying to play with their very young children on the nearby swings, slides and roundabouts. Certain reports are too unpleasant to include here, but we are holding details.

One report we have received tells of a grandmother and her three excited grandchildren, all under ten years old, looking forward to several hours fun at the new facility. On their arrival they were faced with a group of teenagers on the picnic tables set up by the toddlers play area, "rough hooligans" as the grandmother described them. They were not prepared to move, and were abusive, and so the grandmother and children immediately went home as they were too frightened, children and grandmother alike. This lady also describes the noise and commotion at night as "horrific", often lasting into the small hours and waking up nearby residents. Many complainants have stressed that it is not solely the noise from the Skate Park, it is the rowdy behaviour,not to mention the damage caused by those going to and from the facility.

There have also been disturbing reports of racist remarks and stone throwing at some families using the play area.

A number of parents will not allow their children to go to Vansittart Recreation Ground - and some children have told their parents that they don't WANT to go there!

Smoking and drinking

The original plastic-covered, paper sign, tied to the fence(!) near the entrance gate, now missing, read:

This is a no smoking area. In the interests of safety, please do not bring dogs, glass, alcohol or litter into the area.

We have endless photographs of litter strewn throughout the area and the substantial danger of glass bottles smashed in the Skate Park and onto the underpass beneath, endangering children, other pedestrians and the cyclists that use the underpass. These are often beer and cider bottles, but on the 15th June an empty half bottle of vodka was also discovered. Innumerable cigarette ends are to be found throughout the area. The regulations for the area state 'no smoking or drinking'. Fosters Lager appears to be the market leader. Is that the 'XXXX' brand?

Stones and rocks strewn around

Stones 01

Large lump of smashed tarmac

Iron bar on ground

Iron bar left on site

Stones 2

Large stones, perhaps cobble stones, on site

Stones on children's area

Stones and earth thrown onto the young children's play area

On the morning of Friday 15th June, we inspected the entire playground and skate park area and photographed extensively. The whole site had suffered from stones, and clods of soil being thrown and kicked around. This in itself is not a danger, merely an irritation, but we do believe that a major effort must be made to clear the site of absolutely anything that a vandal can carry a few hundred yards down the road with which to cause severe damage to private property.

Increased graffiti in underpass and nearby foot paths


We have not published photographs of graffiti up to this point as we did not wish to give the perpetrators the satisfaction of seeing their 'work' on The Royal Windsor Web Site. However, with the Borough's failure to date to remove the scrawl, we believe that we should now publish the pictures of the mess. This is not the worst of the graffiti in the underpass. Note the several examples of half-removed graffiti in the lower part of the picture. This is apparently the best that could be done when an attempt was made last year. We have photographic records of all incidences of graffiti over the last two years and the dates on which the damage was caused.

Trees uprooted and snapped off (several occasions)

It really was a racing certainty that the newly planted trees, only partially supported, should be broken off and so it has proved. We are totally mystified why local councils persist in spending vast quantities of our money on small trees that are certain to be broken down in days. The earlier incident of uprooted trees is featured here.

Broken trees

Fires at Skate Park and nearby

Fire on pathway to Skate Park

Fire on pathway to Skate Park

The photograph above was taken on the path running from Alma Road to Vansittart Recreation Ground and the Skate Park. The fire was quite intense for a period as the branches of the tree above have been burnt.

Some would maintain that there is no link between this incident and the existence of the Skate Park. However, as we have photographic evidence of fires having been lit beneath the Skate Park ramps themselves, the chances of them being unconnected are remote.

In addition, we have received reports that fireworks were seen being thrown by boys on the Skate Park area itself.

Summary of the foregoing

The reactions from local residents have been unanimous. The Skate Park as it stands at the moment is a total disaster area which has already caused local residents considerable inconvenience, expense, and in some circumstances, actual fear, either through verbal abuse, intimidating behaviour or stone throwing.

It is essential that this situation is addressed and effective action taken right away. It is only a question of time before someone is badly hurt. One of the complaints will be that there was no supervision and that no means of calling for help were available in the vicinity. The location will be investigated and the reasons for siting it in such an inappropriate area will be questioned at length.

The Royal Windsor Web Site will continue to monitor the area, maintain photographic records and bring as much pressure to bear as possible. We urge other residents who are in a position to complain to do likewise. This Skate Park cannot be allowed to continue in its present form.

It is important to note carefully any occurrences of vandalism, loutish behaviour, graffiti and other disturbances as they happen and to let the police know if the severity warrants such action. Please retain these notes carefully and send a copy to us as well at the address below. If the situation deteriorates, as well it might, your report will be very useful. You may also email The Editor, Thamesweb. We may publish anonymously comments received but reserve the right to edit letters and emails as we think appropriate.


Back to Vansittart Home Page

Read about Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council's
(failed) plans to build on Vansittart Rec in 1947, 1952 and 1989

Vansittart Road Skate Park Index

Local Matters

Stories from 2001

Stories from 1999-2000

Back to Royal Windsor Home Page

To contact us, email Thamesweb.