Fenland’s �800,000 ticking timebomb says former councillor

AN �800,000 showcase adventure playground and still under construction is a ticking time bomb with anti-social behaviour about to get out of control, it was claimed tonight.

Residents say teenagers and adults clambering into the unfinished playground at the Spinney off Waterlees Road in Wisbech are wrecking the new equipment and making life hell for those who live nearby.

A residents’ liaison committee set up to work with Cambridgeshire County Council has resigned in disgust claiming their views were ignored.

Paul Clapp, a former town councillor, liaison committee member and youth worker said he stepped into break up a fight on Sunday afternoon.

“I am just waiting for the time bomb going off,” he said. “Different groups who are getting in there don’t get on and I believe before long we will be looking at a vigilante culture.

“When the youngsters go home at night the adults turn up and many of them are already drunk. They throw rocks at the Dalban tower and because it sounds like metal it makes a terrible noise. We have that until after midnight.”

The reports have prompted swift action by the county council who won approval to build the playground on land owned by Fenland Council.

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“A security company will be locking the gates at night and will be patrolling the site at various times during the evening and overnight in a bid to deter anti-social behaviour,” he said.

“We hope this can start before the weekend.”

The spokesman urged youngsters not to damage fencing in their attempts to break in as it will cause further delays to the project which is already behind schedule.

The playground should have opened by now but has mainly been delayed by the need for an archaeological excavation.

On Wednesday youngsters were playing on part of the site and were kept off the remainder under construction by workmen.

Mr Clapp wants compensation from the county council for residents affected by the disturbances.

“Everyone who lives around the development should be compensated and people are keeping diaries as to how their lives are being affected,” he said.

“We want the tower to be taken down to stop this rock throwing and the whole thing to be made more secure. “We want security actually on site. Someone should be held accountable for this and perhaps the council should be made to pay the police bill because I can’t count how many times they have been called out.”

Resident Alan Lay, who campaigned against the playground said: “The noise when they throw rocks is terrible. These teenagers and hooligans are being drawn to the site like bees to a honey a pot.

“This area is mainly retired people and it making life unbearable.

“This whole play area is already a disaster and it is creating noise not just in the day time but until 2am. “Some of the things have already been vandalised and there is a serious question of dereliction of duty because entrance to the site is unhindered.”

* Money for the project was part of an award to the county council from the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

* The land is owned by Fenland District Council but in February the site was leased to the county council for a peppercorn rent of just �1 for 50 years.

* A major factor in the choice of location was the fact it is an area of multiple deprivation and would help improve the quality of life for children and young people.

* More than 140 residents signed a petition against the playground being built there.

* They claimed the site was unsuitable and would lead to anti-social behaviour and reduce house prices.

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