Vandals slammed after targeting South Tyneside park in two-month wrecking spree

Teenage yobs have been slammed over a two-month campaign of destruction at a popular South Tyneside park.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 13 June, 2019, 05:00
From left, Temple Memorial Park Volunteer Rangers Bonitta Nesbitt and Pauline Hetherington at The Garage storage space were it has suffered roof vandalism.

They have been accused of burning trees, scattering rubbish filled bags and leaving a storage support building almost unusable at Temple Park, in South Shields.

And they have even been blamed for several attacks on circus vehicles which currently occupy part of the site.

The Garage storage space were home to the Temple Memorial Park Volunteer Rangers has suffered vandalism to the roof

Environmentalists who work to maintain the 175-acre parkland have now called on police, council chiefs and parents to act to halt the vandal attacks.

Bonita Nesbitt, secretary of the Temple Memorial Park Volunteer Rangers (TMPVR), which works to maintain the park, said it was the second spate of group vandalism in 18 months.

Council chiefs also hit out, branding the incidents as “senseless” and saying clean-up costs hit taxpayers in the pocket, and police vowed to step up patrols

Miss Nesbitt said: “These latest incidents started about two months ago – they’ve been going on long enough and needs to be nipped in the bud.

From left, Temple Memorial Park Volunteer Rangers Bonitta Nesbitt and Pauline Hetherington at The Garage storage space were it has suffered vandalism causing damage to donations.

“I fear that unless something is done to stop these kids now, then the park will suffer many more years of vandalism and abuse.

“These are just children of around twelve and thirteen. They have many positive things they could be doing, and so much opportunity, yet they chose to destroy this park.

“We’ve only just managed to identify them and have been to see their parents, but only time if this behaviour is stopped.

“A previous group of kids caused similar problems but they’ve now grown up and moved on.”

South Tyneside Council said it planned to move an adjoining container which was giving vandals access to The Garage’s roof - and also urged people to report incidents.

A spokeswoman said: “Such senseless behaviour simply places an additional burden on taxpayers and makes it more difficult for the rangers to help keep the park a pleasant environment for those who use it.”

Miss Nesbitt said the TMPVR’s storage facility, a council-owned stone building known as The Garage and sited close to Temple Park Leisure Centre, has been consistently targeted.

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Almost 40 roof tiles have been removed and smashed on the ground, its exposure to rain causing irreparable damage to goods stored inside.

These include household items and bric-a-brac donated to groups which are sold and used as its main source of income.

A self-funded noticeboard attached to the properly has twice been damaged, and several trees have had their bark deliberately burnt.

Miss Nesbitt also says plastic bags attached to lampposts, put in place for rubbish and dog waste, have been pulled away and left scattered.

The TMPVR was established in January 2018 and is one of a number of voluntary support organisations operating at the park.

Its work is supported by the Handy Estates team at South Tyneside Homes (STH), South Tyneside Council’s housing management arm.

Handy Estates provides rubbish bags and hand-held litter grabbers, with STH collecting and removing the filled sacks.

Incidents of vandalism can be reported to South Tyneside Council’s Customer Contact Centre on 0191 427 7000.

Northumbria Police said it planned to increase uniformed and plain-clothed patrol in Temple Park - and would act against anyone involved in criminal behaviour.

Inspector Phil Baker said: “Over the last week, we have received some complaints of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage.

“We take these reports very seriously and enquiries are ongoing to locate those responsible.

“With the weather getting warmer, we do expect to see large groups of young people together in public places and that can often lead to some complaints from the local community.

“It must be stressed that the overwhelming majority of young people are an absolute credit to themselves and their community, but often the behaviour of a minority gives them a bad name.

“Hanging out with your friends is not a crime but some young people can find themselves getting drawn into anti-social behaviour, whether that is drinking on the streets or intimidating residents.

“We would encourage anybody with concerns about anti-social behaviour in their area to speak to an officer on patrol.”