EDITOR – Bell Park, alongside Jameson Bridge Street, recently lost a picnic table and bench through a fire.
In the past year vandalism has destroyed an activity unit in the children’s play area and a novelty bear waste bin from alongside that same area, comfortably several hundred pounds’ worth of damage in these cash-strapped times.
Bell Park is a decent size, probably around one acre and comprises, primarily, a children’s play and activity centre, with most of the park given over to grassland.
Its natural users should be young families, children and dog walkers. Some two years ago the notices governing activity were changed from “no dogs in the play area” to “no dogs allowed”. Period.
The odd alteration seems to leave the park divorced from a main potential user. So, who is responsible for the vandalism? Is it the young families and children or disaffected dog walkers?
However, there is one other unsavoury group of users who normally appear as darkness begins to fall.
These are the unpleasant youths of the town. In the absence of dogs, these less intelligent life forms leave their mess where they congregate and howl abuse at passers-by.
Could it be this grouping which is responsible for the damage? The police seem unable or unwilling to curb their activities around the town in general.
I’d suggest that apparent inactivity puts the police at risk of losing the respect of the public. The winter months tend to put a dampener on their anti-social activities, but the burning of park benches is probably a sign of the beginning of spring and their resurgence.
To end appropriately, I am reminded of the words of one of those great characters from Hollywood westerns – the frontier town newspaper proprietor.
The particular one I would quote invariably ended his thundering editorials with the demand that the villain concerned “should be taken out and shot like a dog”.
In line with more enlightened times, although it doesn’t have the same resonance, this should amount to only appearing in public with a muzzle and, of course, being banned from the park.