Vandals attack new Barnstaple skate park

POLICE and CCTV operators have warned that vandalism at Barnstaple s brand new skate park will not be tolerated. The �288,000 Rock Park skate park finally opened in April after years of hard work and fund-raising, much of it done by young skaters themselv

POLICE and CCTV operators have warned that vandalism at Barnstaple's brand new skate park will not be tolerated. The �288,000 Rock Park skate park finally opened in April after years of hard work and fund-raising, much of it done by young skaters themselves.

But less than four months after opening, the state-of-the-art facility that has quickly become a magnet for skaters and BMX bikers of all ages, is already being targeted by a mindless minority intent on spoiling the fun for others.

Police are currently investigating CCTV footage after wooden fencing panels at the rear of the park were torn down. Officers are also aware of incidents where skaters and bikers have been abused and insulted by other youths, many of whom were not using the park themselves.

In a letter to the Gazette this week, reader Ken Smith, from Barnstaple, said he was "shocked" to discover the damage that had been done to the fencing.


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"I have been watching this fence slowly become more damaged since about a week after the park opened," he said. "Why do young people now find it necessary to destroy what must be one of the best skating parks in the county?"

Mr Smith said that rubbish, including bottles and cans, was strewn around the site on a daily basis, with a total disregard for the bins provided.

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Another member of the public who spoke to the Gazette said he had approached a group of youths attempting throw a chair into a tree across the road from the skate park.

"I spoke to them to ask what they were doing and they said they had taken the chair from nearby Park School," he said.

"They were quite aggressive and basically told me to mind my own business."

Neighbourhood beat manager PC Dave Seymour said: "The skate park was a long time in the making and we are so pleased that since its opening it is being used by a large number of people of varying ages and skills.

"The Newport Beat Team has developed a strong rapport with many of the skaters and BMX riders trying to make sure that they feel safe and confident whenever they are at the skate park.

"Unfortunately there have been incidents where some of them have been abused and insulted by other youths, most of whom have no interest in actually using the skate park themselves.

"We are in the process of investigating a report of damage to the wooden fence that backs the rink and we will follow up and deal with any information provided in the hope that it leads to whoever was responsible."

Amanda Palmer, community safety manager for Safer North Devon, added: "For most local communities, the outcomes for these projects are positive.

"However, often a small number of individuals can cause damage or threat which spoils it for others.

"We support the police in taking robust action where possible and would urge the community to continue to support all partners to keep these facilities safe and accessible for all."

A spokesperson for North Devon Council, which operates the CCTV cameras in Barnstaple, said: "CCTV footage at the skate park is monitored 24-hours-a-day to ensure this wonderful new facility is not abused and to look after the safety of the skaters.

"Any incidents that come to our attention are dealt with in the most appropriate manner which may include reporting it to the Police.

"We are very proud of this new facility we have created, particularly working in partnership with young people and we do not want their hard work or enjoyment of the facility to be spoiled in anyway.

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