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Vandalism causes gates to be shut at Kingswood playing field in Lenham Road

Vandalism, intimidation and illegal races have caused the gates to be shut at playing fields in Kingswood.

The problems have become so bad the village’s Scout group has requested a police presence at its evening meetings there, following reports of youths being abusive towards leaders, using catapults and taking drugs nearby.

Broomfield and Kingswood Parish Council is now trialling the closure of the entrance to the sports field, in Lenham Road.

Cllr Mike Lovell at Kingswood playing field
Cllr Mike Lovell at Kingswood playing field

It means pedestrians will still be able to enjoy the park, but access to vehicles and the car park is prevented.

Cllr Mike O’Neill said the decision was taken to protect residents. He said: “What we are getting unfortunately is pony and trap racing through the grounds and vandals smashing up the equipment.

“It is horrible really, it is a nice little village and people shouldn’t feel intimidated going to a playing field. This is not what they are supposed to be used for.

“They are used by mums with young kids and babies, youngsters playing football and dog walkers, and we don’t want them to be at risk.

"We sat down and thought about it. It was not a decision we took lightly, and we will discuss it again at our next meeting.”

In the past few weeks the litter bin has been set on fire, a picnic table sawed apart, and a memorial bench completely destroyed.

Benches have been damaged in the vandalism
Benches have been damaged in the vandalism

There have also been reports of glass from broken beer bottles being found in the grass. But the complaints came to a head when a young child was nearly hit by a motorised trike which was being raced at the field.

Cllr O’Neill said: “We have had several near misses with traps and trikes. What we don’t want is an accident.

“I think we will have to have CCTV installed. It hurts us because these are amenities and provided for everyone. It is just mindless vandalism.”

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