The new playpark at Hawick’s Wilton Lodge Park is already becoming a magnet for anti-social behaviour, sparking calls for closed-circuit TV cameras to be installed to help keep youbs under control.
Police inquiries are now ongoing about a series of incidents involving youths reported at the £300,000 facility since its opening just last Friday.
Inspector Carol Wood, of Hawick police station, told a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s Teviot and Liddesdale area forum on Tuesday that the playpark is already giving cause for concern.
She said: “Since the opening of the new playpark at Wilton Lodge Park, we have been made aware of a number of youth-related antisocial behaviour incidents that we continue to conduct inquiries into.
“While this sort of behaviour is both unacceptable and extremely disappointing, given the time, effort and money that has gone into providing a first-class play resource for the town, I would like to stress that only a very small minority of young people are involved.
“We will continue to patrol the area to deter any offences and appropriately deal with anyone found to be involved.”
Members of the forum are now calling for the provision of CCTV cameras on the nearby cafe currently being built.
Hawick Community Council chairwoman Marion Short also told of an incident involving an excitable dog being tied up next to the swings, leaving children too scared to play on them.
Posters advising owners against taking dogs into the playpark have now been put up, and over the next few months, griddling will be installed at the gates to prevent dogs from entering.
Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull, the forum’s chairman, said: “It beggars believe that a minority of individuals could be so callous as to deliberately cause damage to a flagship project which so many have worked so hard to help Hawick and improve the facilities for the townspeople and visitors alike.
“I sincerely hope that the culprits are caught and dealt with appropriately.
“Shame on them for the trouble and distress they have caused by being so stupid in their actions and especially so soon after the soft opening of this fantastic facility.”
Dozens of Teries also took to social media to complain about mess caused by eggs being thrown at the playpark’s timber castle over the weekend.
A council spokesperson said: “It was fantastic to see the excitement of local people about the opening of the new playpark at Wilton Lodge Park and that so many people enjoyed the new facility over its first weekend.
“However, it is very disappointing that some users chose not to respect others by carrying out anti-social behaviour, resulting in minor damage and littering to the playpark.
“The latest improvements to the play area are part of the £3.64m regeneration project for Wilton Lodge Park, which will provide benefits to locals and visitors alike.
“We would ask that people respect others when using the park by refraining from anti-social behaviour including use of foul and abusive language, take litter home or deposit in the bins provided and treat the play area with the appropriate amount of care so that the whole of Hawick can enjoy the facilities for many years to come.
“There are currently no plans to install security cameras at the playpark, but the situation will be monitored in the coming weeks.”
A Wilton Lodge Park stakeholder group will now look into the installation of CCTV at the playpark after the issue was discussed at a meeting with councillors on Wednesday.
£300,000 facility taking child’s play into new era – pages 12, 13, 33 & 34