March playing field closed off in bid to stop vandalism

CHAMPAGNE corks popped yesterday as residents celebrated action being taken by two councils to stop the anti-social behaviour which has made their lives a misery.

As work started on erecting fences to block off access from near their homes to the former Hereward School playing field, homeowners in Wake Road, March, said they were relieved the end of their four-year battle was in sight.

The 2.4 metre high green mesh fencing will effectively completely close off the field which is a popular dog walking area and is used as a short cut by parents taking children to school.

For four years residents claim to have suffered from persistent vandalism by youngsters using the field as an easy access route from Wake Road and Southwell Close.

Resident Ronnie Prior said: “We want to be able to go to bed at night and be able to sleep. We want peace of mind and that is all we have ever asked for. It was our safety that we have had to think about in this.

“We hope now that those who have been doing it will just leave us alone. We have tried all ways to stop what was happening but in the end this seems to be the only way.”

One resident had a nervous breakdown and considered suicide when things got too much for her.

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A record of incidents revealed door locks filled with glue, car tyres slashed, missiles thrown at homes and people, electricity cables cut and vandalism to gardens.

The residents enlisted the help of Fenland District Councillors John West and Peter Tunley who also involved police, district council officers and Cambridgeshire County Council.

The fences are on two narrow stretches of land owned by the district council and the cost is being shared by the district and county councils. Access to the rest of the field is being cut off by the county council.

A spokesman for the county council said: “There are no public rights of way enjoyed over the county council’s land although this has been used on an occasional and informal basis over recent years. The county council is currently exploring longer term options to ensure the land can provide more beneficial and formal community use.”

Councillor Ken Mayor, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for safer and stronger communities, said over recent months there had been lengthy discussions over the best way to tackle the problem.

He said: “Between us we agreed that these fences provide the most effective solution. We will all continue to monitor the situation carefully and take appropriate action against any offenders in the future.”

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