Vandals branded "abominable people" after "appalling" damage to Biggleswade play area

Refurbishment work at Franklins Recreation Ground has been halted due to the damage
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Vandals branded “abominable people” have caused “appalling” damage to a Biggleswade play area, which is being redeveloped.

The latest of three recent incidents at Franklins Recreation Ground, off Mill Lane, resulted in damage to wooden play equipment and to foundations.

The town council’s head of governance and strategic partnershipsKarim Hosseini said each of the incidents has been reported to Bedfordshire Police.

Vandalism at Franklins Recreation GroundVandalism at Franklins Recreation Ground
Vandalism at Franklins Recreation Ground

There was minor damage to fencing initially, and then a group needed moving on after being seen by the public realm manager, he told a town centre management committee meeting.

“The worst occasion was last weekend with considerable damage to the play equipment and the works beneath,” he explained.

“The contractor has temporarily halted installation works, as the vandalism has caused about three weeks of delays.

“Multiple holes will need to be dug again and trenches have been filled in. The surfaces under the play equipment need redoing.

“The contractor wants on-site security introduced. He can no longer guarantee the March 31st delivery date.”

Officers are preparing a report for a town council meeting on Tuesday (February 28) setting out options to address the vandalism, with the cost expected to be public works loan board funded, according to Mr Hosseimi.

“These solutions range from procuring a patrolled vehicle for nights and weekends costing about £1,000 a week, up to a security officer presence at the same times of around £2,000 a week,” he added.

“Installing a camera with night vision would be about £1,000 capital and other options include improved signage.”

Town councillor Duncan Strachan asked for the local authority’s mobile CCTV camera to be deployed there, “as a matter of urgency”, saying: “This is absolutely appalling.

“The renovation is for the benefit of the children of this town. The children, their parents and childminders are really excited by the project.

“These abominable people are beneath contempt. They should be locked up for some time. Bedfordshire Police have to go down there and take action.”

He urged residents witnessing such behaviour “to report it to the police and town council”.

Town councillor Mark Knight, who chairs the committee, said: “We would need considerable signage in the short-term, so everyone knows the CCTV is there.

“Do parents in the town know where their children are? They won’t want to see images of them on social media.”

Deputy mayor Madeline Russell wondered how the council can protect £100,000 of new equipment once the work is finished.

“I don’t want the CCTV down there all the time,” she explained. “But do we need extra CCTV or lighting? Is the night camera talked about the best solution?

“We need to be looking short-term to get the equipment properly installed to support the contractor. We need to think longer-term how we look after that area.”

She added afterwards: “The project was carefully planned, so that a fabulous new play area would be available for children as the weather improves.

“There’ll be a greater cost to council taxpayers because of the need for further site security.”