Children's play sessions cancelled after ‘destructive’ vandals strike again at popular South Tyneside park

It’s children in South Tyneside who will lose out this summer, as vandals target Temple Memorial Park, just months after a previous campaign of destruction.

By Sarah Sinclair
Saturday, 10 August, 2019, 08:00
Temple Memorial Park Volunteer Rangers Bonitta Nesbitt and Pauline Hetherington (R) at The Garage storage space were it has suffered roof vandalism

Temple Memorial Park Volunteer Rangers (TMPVR), who work to maintain the park in South Shields, have been forced to cancel their schedule of summer activities, after their base and storage building was left completely unusable.

Vandals have been accused of removing tiles from the roof and smashing the inner ceiling of the building, known as The Garage, in an incident believed to have taken place on Thursday, August 1.

Some equipment inside has been irreparably damaged after it was left completely exposed to the elements.

Damage to the roof of The Garage at Temple Memorial Park

This is just the latest in a spate of vandalism in the park over the last 18 months. In June there were also reports of damage to the roof, scattered rubbish bags, trees being set alight and several attacks on circus vehicles at the site.

“It’s soul destroying, we take a couple of steps forward and then we get knocked back,” said TMPVR secretary, Bonita Nesbitt.

“There were three tiles missing when we first moved in, now there are over 40. All the slats have been smashed and the inner ceiling appears to have been been booted in, as rain was just coming straight through.

“They are trying to gain access and they throw lit paper in but it's so wet in there it doesn't do anything but go out.”

Damage to the roof of The Garage at Temple Memorial Park

The volunteers have had no choice but to remove their equipment from the building and cancel several events set to be held in Temple Memorial Park throughout the summer holidays. These include sports days, craft sessions and bug hunts.

They will instead hold a one-day event, encompassing a variety of activities, on Tuesday, August 27.

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“It’s totally stopped all our events for the summer. We had planned on doing something every week, but now we’re just going to have to do it all on one day, because we can’t carry all the different equipment,” said Ms Nesbitt. “It’s immeasurable what we have lost.”

Ms Nesbitt is calling on parents to take action to prevent their children carrying out acts of vandalism.

Temple Memorial Park Volunteer Rangers Bonita Nesbitt and Pauline Hetherington (R) at The Garage storage space which has suffered vandalism

“The parents just aren’t listening. They really need to tell their kids to stop, to find something better to do than destroy things,” she said. “The vandals are getting younger and younger, some of them are primary school age now.

“I just want them to stop being so destructive.”

The TMPVR group which was established in January 2018, moved into the council-owned building in October and have seen it consistently targeted.

Following previous attacks, South Tyneside Council said it planned to move an adjoining container which was giving vandals access to the roof. They have described the latest incidents as "senseless” and encouraged residents to report any relevant information to the authorities.

Damage caused by vandals at The Garage storage space in Temple Memorial Park

A spokesperson for the Council said: “This vandalism is not only senseless, it is a drain on Council resources as costs for repairs will be picked up by tax payers. Ongoing vandalism is making it more difficult for the rangers to help keep the park a pleasant environment for those who use it. We would encourage anyone who has any information about who is responsible for this to contact either the Council or Northumbria Police.

"We are working to move the container as soon as possible and will make the repairs to the building as necessary."

Damage caused by vandals to The Garage storage space at Temple Memorial Park