06:01PM, Thursday 26 May 2016
A shocked councillor has called on police to ‘step up to the mark’ to tackle vandalism in Oaken Grove Park.
Cllr Simon Werner (Lib, Pinkneys Green) says CCTV should be installed in the park after a cafe was vandalised by a group of youths with ‘metal implements’ on Saturday evening.
A group of six to eight youths damaged the door of the toilets and became ‘confrontational and abusive’ when challenged.
The Advertiser understands Vesuvio Cafe, which opened less than two weeks ago, may close next month as a result of the vandalism.
A park user, who asked not to be named, said the youths were ‘intimidating’. She said: “It’s dangerous and I’m very concerned. They’re a big group and I always see them smoking. I feel frightened.”
This is not the first time the park has been targeted. In October a maze introduced under the council’s Bright Ideas scheme was vandalised just days after it was opened.
Cllr Werner added: “It’s absolutely shocking. Community wardens need to be down there getting the police involved.
“An idea had previously been put forward for CCTV, but there wasn’t money in the budget. Maybe we need to revisit this? The police need to step up to the mark, especially as half term is approaching.
“We need to install CCTV even if it is on a temporary basis. If the leader of the council has saved money from his cabinet, some of it should be used for CCTV so this problem can be dealt with.”
In March, Cllr Werner raised concerns after play equipment was scrawled with graffiti and damaged by fire.
Another park user, Jake Hughes, said he has not returned since he witnessed anti-social behaviour a few months ago.
He said: “The group of about seven to ten boys started smoking cannabis. The smell was just circulating round the whole park near young children and it was totally disgusting.
“I called 111 and explained the situation. They said they would send a unit down to deal with it.
“I hung around for 30 minutes waiting for them to see what they would do and they did not turn up. I left the park as I could not stand the smell any longer. I don’t think anyone else did anything as they probably felt intimidated by them.”
Sgt Adrian Blades, of Maidenhead Neighbourhood Policing team, said; “We are very aware of a particular issue that has developed around the Oaken Grove park area in which a group of young teenagers are being anti-social, and in some cases carrying out criminal damage.
“We are aware of specific offences and we are investigating these fully, and looking to take the most appropriate action.
“In addition we are working closely with the local authority in order to tackle this issue for the community, but also to if at all possible engage with these teenagers. However should the need arise we will use the full powers available to us to tackle this unacceptable situation.
“We are stepping up our presence in that area, and are working to offer reassurance to all parties concerned.
“We would encourage anyone with concerns to talk to the neighbourhood policing team, and report any incident to 101. Tackling this issue remains a priority for the Maidenhead Neighbourhood Policing team and I will be monitoring the situation closely."
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