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Council’s bid to tackle escalating vandalism

MELKSHAM Town Council will discuss the issue of vandalism at the next town council meeting, following a series of reports of damage in the town.

Primrose Nature Walk has been struck again by vandals, and the Wiltshire Youth Canoe Club, based in the park, has spoken about their ongoing battle to raise funds just to repair what the vandals have destroyed.

Mayor Cllr Adrienne Westbrook commented, “I was saddened to see and hear of the mindless vandalism happening across Melksham over half-term. Local areas have been recklessly destroyed by young people.

“This is not indicative of all young people, just a small minority.”

At Primrose Nature Walk, vandals have destroyed  the trees, signs and bird feeders that are thoughtfully placed and maintained by local man, Steve Rolfe.

Vandalism has become a frequent problem in the area, and Primrose Walk Nature Area has been targeted several times in recent weeks. Jim Laws expressed his anger in the last issue of the Melksham News after damage was caused to the seating area’s tree.

Jim Laws added, “It’s just disgraceful that a person works to make it a friendly, pretty, walking area for all and helping wildlife to visit the area. I saw a water vole swimming to his hole, that’s the first one i’ve seen in this area and I have lived here 10 years. The parents of those caught should be charged for the damage, they know who they are and should be held responsible.”

Opinions have been placed on Facebook of locals hearing about the recent vandalism at Primrose Nature Walk Area.

Sophie Robinson said, “I’m absolutely gutted, it was only Friday that I walked through [the area] with my daughter and my dog, and I thought it was lovely and such a peaceful place.”

Lisa King said, “That is awful!!!! I often walk round there with my little boy and think it’s lovely what people have done to make it so beautiful.”

Cllr Kathy Iles responded with “This kind of behaviour is escalating, how are we going to stop it, what can we, as a caring community, do? Cllr Adrienne Westbrook, please could this be brought up again at the next council meeting and invite the police to attend again to comment and give advice.”

In response, the Mayor cllr Adrienne Westbrook said,  “I’ll get the town clerk to action this. They [the police] always attend our full council meetings, but will ask them to report on these issues.”

Kevin Bowerbank, British canoeing’s sprint coach at Wiltshire Youth Canoe Club has also expressed anger towards the recent sprout of vandalism in the area, after the adventure centre building remains a target for anti-social behaviour.

He said, “We have an on-going problem at the adventure centre and in the park with anti-social behaviour and drug taking.

“Our problem is that we are completely self-funded, providing a service for the community and are in a constant battle with vandals. We understand that our building needs modernising, but any money we are fundraising is being redirected into fixing vandal damage.

“We have graffiti on the outside of the building, manhole covers are being removed and drains blocked, the gutters are being pulled down and the stone walls are being damaged. We have completely modernised the inside and now the outside doesn’t reflect what you get on the inside.

“It’s a shame as the park is such a massive asset to the town but it is being absolutely ruined by a small minority of people. We are trying to provide a community service to engage with the youth, showing better examples of what youths can do and a few are not interested.”

“We will either have to put our fees up to cover the repairs or apply for outside funding, something which will get rejected if it is to cover vandalism. It’s a shame that one-third of all our funds will have to go towards damage repairs.”

Community coordinator, PC Charly Chilton said, “I’d like residents to know that we are aware of the anti-social behaviour in the town and we have identified three youths who we believe have been involved and are dealing appropriately.

“Anti-social behaviour has been set as a priority and as a result, we have increased patrols, so residents can expect to see a heightened police presence in the area over the coming weeks as we look to deal with any unacceptable behaviour.

“We want local people to feel pride in their community, and will not allow a small number of people ruin it for others.”

If you have experienced any issues with vandalism in the area, please report it to the local police.

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