RESIDENTS are demanding action after vandals struck in Wokingham’s town centre on Saturday night.
Plants and trees were torn down from Howard Palmer Gardens and the new Elms Field development, while a car left ‘doughnuts’ – spinning around in circles – on the Gardens’ grass. The same vandals also damaged a gate.
A team from Wokingham Town Council visited the gardens on Sunday morning, rescuing the trees and keeping them safe until they could be replanted.
Among the team was Cllr Maria Gee, who is also the deputy town mayor.
She said: “Neighbours reported that cars were doing doughnuts on the grass at Howard Palmer Gardens on Saturday night.
“I went up to see the damage and was shocked to see that a tree had been uprooted at the park. It’s very sad to see our town centre parks being vandalised.”
Helping her was Wokingham Town Council leader Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, who said: “We are shocked and disgusted about the mindless vandalism that has happened in our town overnight.
“We want people to enjoy our parks and public spaces, but anyone who wants to damage them like this and to try to spoil them for everyone else needs to be stopped.
“We have operational CCTV in Elms Field and across the town centre, but it is still vital that anyone who saw or knows anything about these events, reports it to the police.”
It is hoped that the vandals will have been picked up on CCTV.
And the Great Langborough Residents Association are also hoping for action to be taken over the gardens, saying that it attracts antisocial behaviour from people swearing throughout the day, taking drugs and making noise in the early hours of the morning.
They also say they regularly find needles, empty lager tins and general rubbish.
“The residents of Howard Road are a pretty tolerant lot but this has become too much and they are now demanding action after some years of the problem being unresolved and escalating,” explained Robin Cops.
“They have been told by the council to register any incident with the police via the 101 number and partly as a result of this issue has suddenly gone up the agenda.”
This view was echoed by Cllr Gee, who said: “People in Wokingham are fed up with vandalism in the town.
“We miss having a local police station and an obvious police presence in the town, particularly at night.
“Fewer police on the streets and the lack of a station makes criminals more confident that they will not be caught, resulting in more opportunistic crime, such as the damage to our parks on Saturday night.”
A petition was launched earlier this year in a bid to get a police station back in Wokingham town centre. It will ultimately be presented to the Home Secretary, with copies going to Sir John Redwood and Thames Valley Police.
Nearly 400 people have signed so far, and it can be seen at bit.ly/WokinghamPolice