Vandalism is 'putting lives at risk'

COUNTRYSIDE officers claim groups of youths loitering at Needham Lake in the evenings are putting the lives of children at risk with their vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

By John Howard

COUNTRYSIDE officers claim groups of youths loitering at Needham Lake in the evenings are putting the lives of children at risk with their vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

And Mid Suffolk District Council is warning them that police have the power to confiscate their cars if they are involved in unruly behaviour.

Groups of youths are using Mill Meadow as a regular meeting place and the site has had the storage shed broken into twice, picnic tables vandalised, trees snapped off and graffitti scrawled on tables and the car park surface.


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Large amounts of litter are left scattered on site and cars and motorbikes have been driving around the picnic areas damaging the grass.

The latest incident involved placing a picnic table on top of the children's climbing frame and four tables stacked on top of each other.

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Dave Hughes, the countryside officer for Needham Lake, said: “Had a child climbed on to the tables before the rangers found them early the following morning, the tables could have fallen and killed them.

“It took three of us with ropes to safely lower the table from the climbing frame before we could allow anyone to use the play area.

“I can't understand why these youths feel they have to damage everything wherever they meet.

“Having been moved on from Hurstlea Road due to their disruptive behaviour all that will happen is they will be moved on from Needham Lake if the level of damage continues.

“We are spending the first part of every day dealing with the damage caused the previous evening. This is not acceptable.”

Countryside staff are working with the police to identify the youths causing the damage.

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk District Council said: “Many of them are known to have caused damage elsewhere in Needham Market.

“Police do have the powers to seize vehicles driven by anyone identified as being involved in antisocial behaviour.”

The Cedars Park play area in Stowmarket has been hit by a spate of vandalism which has resulted in ongoing graffiti and even a climbing wall having a hole punched into it, probably by a sledge hammer.

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