Help at hand after vandals strike
NEW trees planted in Southey Park have been pulled out of the ground by vandals.
Witnesses said a group of teenagers were seen pulling up the saplings, smashing their protective casing and playing around with it in the middle of the afternoon.
The two rows of saplings had been planted in 2019 and 2020, with the latter set being donated to the park by the Woodland Trust. They were growing into a hedge between the football pitch and the hard-standing area of the park on New Cheltenham Road.
It was hoped the hedge would attract wildlife, stop footballs rolling off the pitch as frequently and provide a barrier between football players and children playing on the hard-standing area which is about to have new play markings added.
Police were called to the site and were provided with photos of the vandals.
Tina Sheppard, of Friends of Southey Park, said the police helped replant all the uprooted saplings and put back together the protective casing as far as was possible.
She said: “We’ve no idea why these youths did such a silly thing and I don’t think they really understand the consequences of their actions.
“We’re trying really hard to look after the park and make it a nice place to be, giving up our time as volunteers to litter pick and apply for grants to make it a place everyone can enjoy, but then things like this happen.
“We hope they’ll learn from this mistake. All we wanted was for them to come and apologise and help clear up the mess they made.”
Thankfully more help was on hand from Elmtree Garden Contractors, who saw the reports of the vandalism and gave up their weekend to help repair the damaged sections and donated some more hedging to plant to fill in any gaps. They also offered to help out with some more jobs in the park, as well as giving the park volunteers about keeping the hedge in good condition once it grows.
The Friends of Southey Park were already trying to deal with fly-tipping at the park entrance off Southey Avenue.
Despite piles of rubbish being dumped there since last September, neither the council nor the football club, which leases the land, have cleared it.
Ms Sheppard said that they were also waiting for railings damaged by a car crash 18 months ago to be repaired and installation of new bins.
She said the group was looking for volunteers to help with its work, such as monthly litter picks once Covid restrictions are lifted and applying for grants to improve the park. Anyone able to commit an hour a year or more to help can contact the Friends at firstname.lastname@example.org