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Vansittart Wrecked?

23rd May 2001

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Congratulations are due to the Royal Borough for their innovative scheme at Vansittart Road Recreation Ground. A Skate Park, a toddlers' play area featuring items such as a roundabout, slides and swings, all brightly painted and complete with safety matting beneath. A mass planting of bushes and large trees, fencing and pathways, and even picnic tables and seating.

A perfect venue for the yobs and vandals.

Play equipment

Brightly painted play equipment for the very young

Already local residents are expressing concern about the safety of the area. The thinking behind a Skate Park next to a toddler's play area leaves one baffled.
This week, even before the facility had officially opened, loud-mouthed yobs were cursing and swearing, smoking who knows what, and generally making a thundering nuisance of themselves while mothers with very young children tried to play just feet away. That's not recreation in such an atmosphere!

Bike and rubbish

One of two smashed up bikes lies with construction rubble
before being taken away.

Graffiti is already evident, there are two smashed up bikes - presumably stolen - and it is just a matter of time before thousands of pounds worth of damage is done to the extensive plantings of trees and bushes.
At night intimidating gangs of young people gather with nothing better to do than to drink, smoke and cause damage. The Skate Park features several ramps. These are steel plate and the noise of crashing and banging can be heard hundreds of yards away late into the evening.

The Skate Park

The metal ramps in The Skate Park

We have already seen how graffiti is ignored by the Borough for months on end. Doubtless the further damage that will shortly be caused will be left unrepaired for equally as long.
The 'Guidelines' posted on the fence at the Skate Park make interesting reading. Apart from the expected 'Use the facilities at your own risk' and 'Appropriate clothing must be worn at all times', the notice also states that:

This facility must be used for its intended purpose only.
This is a no smoking area.
In the interests of safety, please do not bring dogs, glass, alcohol or litter into the area.

There is also a warning about not using the facility in the wet.
Reassuringly, telephone numbers are also given for the nearest hospital (!) and for Leisure Services in Maidenhead (01628 796227) to whom damage should be reported.
I suspect this will be a busy line...
This is all very well.
The question must be, "Where is the supervision?" Who will ensure that the facility is used in a considerate manner? Who will ensure the above guidelines are observed? Who will ensure that parents and children are not put at risk or suffer extensive verbal or even physical abuse? What steps are the Borough taking to prevent vandalism and to protect rate payers from the inevitable additional expense of extensive and regular repairs? Or will the facility be left to deteriorate, its only benefit being to provide an abandoned corner for drug users?
So congratulations are due to the Borough. Many thousands of pounds expended and not a scrap of security to protect the investment.
A report in August 2000 suggested that the facility will be locked after a certain time in the evenings and will be fenced to 3m high. Perhaps the three metre fence was intended to be part of the 'challenging equipment for young people' also proposed at the time. As of today, there is no sign of any high fencing, the idea has been scrapped, not that it would have served a ha'p'orth of purpose anyway, it being either scaled with ease, or smashed in hours.
Apparently the area is to be locked at 9.00 at night by the Parks Dept. in the course of their rounds and chains are to be placed across the ramps to discourage use. Chains being clanged on metal plates. Hardly wind chimes!
As one of the men working there today said: "I give it a month."


Update 24th May 2001

A visit at lunchtime today showed substantial amounts of litter strewn around the site after just a day or so of use. Young people were still using the ramps at 12.15am. The sides of the ramps have not been filled in, though it may be planned, and litter such as beer cans and soft drinks bottles were strewn throughout he area. Graffiti, some of it obscene, has already been scrawled on the undersides of the ramps and on fencing.

Local residents are so concerned that demands for the Skate Park to be moved are being considered.

This subject has been updated

Read 5th June Update

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Under side of ramps

The openings to the undersides of the ramps where young people drink alcohol and smoke.
It is to be hoped that these are to be closed off.

Bent railings after a day!

Even before the official opening, the railings at the ends of the ramps are bent out of shape as they are insufficiently well supported or reinforced.

Ramps at Vansittart Rec

Whilst we cannot illustrate it here, the underneath of this ramp is already covered with graffiti, as are railings and along the fence


This subject has been updated

Read 5th June Update

Return to Vansittart Index

Earlier views of Vansittart Rec before construction


Van Rec before work starts

Vansittart Recreation Ground before work started. (September 2000).
The Club House/Changing Rooms were originally constructed for the Athletics Club.
The temporary fencing to the left was regularly forced over by vandals, normally on Friday or Saturday nights throughout the winter.

The Club House is now demolished

The Club House is now demolished and work starts to
remove the running track 'The Tartan Track'
(October 2000)

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

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