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Teen gangs force play park closure
A PLAY park in Walcot will be torn down by Swindon Council after residents were plagued by youths misusing the site.
During the summer months around 30 juveniles as young as 12 who visited Buckhurst Fields played football towards the centre of the green space.
But as the nights began to draw in the youngsters moved their game to the park on the corner of Bisley Close and Concord Walk, and soon began to intimidate the residents.
They would kick the football at windows and on to roofs, jump over walls and trample flowers as well as shouting and swearing outside into the early hours of the morning.
One resident, who did not wish to be identified for fear of being targeted by the youths, said: “I was very ill at the time and I was lying in bed and could hear them outside. My hands were shaking.
“They were throwing plastic bottles at the window.
“It’s just so sad that it has to be taken down just because of their behaviour. It’s a shame for the young ones.
“I know the mums like to come and play with their toddlers and chat on the swings after dropping their older children off at school.
“But it’s dangerous. They have found needles and all sorts in there, it’s not safe for children.”
The residents were impressed with the work of the Neighbour-hood Police Team, which made the issue a priority and led patrols at different times to try and catch the group.
East Sector Inspector Joe Saunders said: “We received a number of complaints from residents in the Walcot area regarding groups of youths acting in an anti-social manner in the local area. As a result of this, and in partnership with the anti-social behaviour team at Swindon Council, the local Neighbourhood Policing Team established a dedicated operation to tackle this.
“The operation, led by PC Dan Ashfield, involved an increase in patrols in the area and more communication with local residents.”
Residents also contacted councillors to try and see the matter resolved.
Coun Mark Dempsey (Lab, Walcot & Park North) said: “This is really worrying and upsetting for residents and as councillors we work very closely with the Neighbourhood Police Team in order to ensure that anti-social behaviour is tackled and residents can live a peaceful life. It seems that in this case the play park is leading to problems.
“Hopefully when the equipment is removed from the play park it will be used for children in this area in a more appropriate place.”
However, the council plans to remove the play park and use the equipment in another part of town.
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “The play area near Helston Road and Bisley Close is designed for small children and was installed approximately six years ago to coincide with the new homes that were built in the area.
“Unfortunately, the play area has become a magnet for anti-social behaviour and, as a result, we have received a number of complaints from local residents.
“Following discussions between our ASB team, the police and local ward councillors it was agreed that the best course of action was to remove the play area, particularly as there is a larger play area just a few hundred yards away at Buckhurst Rec.
“We are looking to re-use some of the play equipment in the play area at Eastern Avenue.”
Police are monitoring the situation and any member of the public who wishes to report any incident of anti-social behaviour should contact their local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be left anonymously.
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