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Police hunt gang causing havoc in Loose Valley Conservation Area

By Alan Smith

A gang of youths seems hell bent on causing destruction in one of Maidstone’s most picturesque areas.

The vandals attacked a historic ragstone wall in the Loose Valley Conservation Area, pulling it to pieces and threatening the integrity of a public footpath above it.

The destruction has compromised safety on the public footpath

The path runs from the Lower Crisbrook Pond in Cave Hill, Tovil, to the new Hayle Park Nature Reserve and the wall formed the boundary of Little Switzerland, an area of amenity land owned jointly by the Valley Conservation Society and Tovil Parish Council.

Society member Dennis Usmar said: “It’s unbelievable what they have done. This was not just a bit of random vandalism by bored youngsters, it was a determined attempt to destroy the wall.

“Some of the coping stones are too big and heavy to lift. We shall have to hire machinery to lift them back into place.”

The wall after the vandals struck

Residents described seeing a gang of six youths, aged from around 15 to 17, accompanied by three girls. One girl had very black hair and one boy was “stocky”.

They made off in the direction of Forest Hill.

Mr Usmar said: “This wall is a feature of the conservation area and the two historic millponds below it.

“Our volunteers spent weeks restoring the wall earlier in the year.”

The historic wall before the attack

A second attack occurred a few days later, when seven wooden palings were cut out of a fence and thrown into a millpond.

Mr Usmar said: “They used bolt-cutters to cut the wire holding the posts in place. Again this was a determined attack.”

Police are treating the incidents as malicious damage and are hunting the gang.

The first incident happened on Sunday, May 26, between 3pm and 4.30pm. The second on Tuesday last week.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 and quote crime number YY/10394/14.

Dennis Usmar: They must be caught

Mr Usmar said: “Many people walk through the valley. We ask them please, if they see anything suspicious, to call the police immediately.”

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